The papers don't understand the difference between truancy (kids bunking off to drink cider in the park or rob your house) and Unauthorised Absences, which are the kids who are away from school without the Head's permission (ie the above crowd plus those who are out shopping with their parents, sunning themselves on holiday in Spain or attending the religious festivals of a country that their family has come here to get away from).
Despite what this article claims, all we really know is that Unauthorised Absences have risen to an average of 64 000 a day for the Autumn 2010 term. This is simply because Heads have stopped authorising as many term time holiday requests. That's all there is to it, I'm afraid.
I don't like it when I can't justify a Daily Mail style rant, so instead let's have a laugh at Louise Bamfield, spokeswoman from Barnardo's. She wants to know 'the reasons why the persistent absentees are so averse to being in the classroom'. Well I can help her out: it's because they can have a lot more fun running around causing mayhem than they can sitting quietly, learning things and answering questions.
When there is no real punishment for bunking off, it's amazing more kids don't do it.