Truancy remains one of the most intransigent problems in the education system.
Schools can put in place any number of initiatives to improve attainment, but if children are bunking off lessons, they won't make a jot of difference.
And Government research shows that is exactly what thousands of youngsters are doing in the West Midlands and across the country.
Figures for last year, released in September, show that in the West Midlands 750 pupils, on average, bunked off school on any one of the 192 days of the academic year.
In Birmingham, more than a third of the authority's 65,000 secondary pupils took an average of more than six days off without permission.
At primary level, a quarter of the city's 86,866 pupils were truant for an average of four days.
Stoke-upon-Trent saw more than 5,500 out of 14,800 secondary pupils play truant for an average of 8.5 days while at primary level 3,700 out of 17,000 pupils took an average of 4.5 days off without consent.
And on it goes. It is, perhaps, unfair to focus on these figures when the majority of pupils do turn up at school.
In Birmingham, for example, overall attendance at secondary level is 0.16 per cent above the national average of
92.18 per cent, a considerable achievement considering the city's challenges.
Compared with attendance rates of 87.5 per cent ten years ago, it shows things are heading in the right direction.
It is persistent offenders who account for the bulk of the days lost through truancy each year and who are doing the most damage to their futures.
The Government claims there are 8,000 of these serial truants in 146 schools. Between 300 and 400 of them are in eight schools across the West Midlands, it says.
It wants schools to identify these pupils and report them to education welfare officers.
Under a get-tough drive, they will be urged to put them on a Fast Track to Attendance scheme involving a range of intervention including parenting lessons.
If attendance does not improve, on-the-spot fines of £50 are first issued, rising to a maximum of £2,500 and, ultimately, imprisonment.
Birmingham has already issued 80 fines to parents of persistent offenders averaging £500 each. A further 35 cases are awaiting prosecution in the magistrates court.
John Smail, lead attendance officer for Birmingham, said: "We were one of the first authorities to use the fast track and issue penalty notices.
"Our attendance is improving above the national average which we are doing through very focused activities and a broad-based strategy."
But Mr Smail said raw figures were often misleading because, for example, a child visiting an ill relative abroad might be recorded as truant until after they came back.
"It is important to look at the detail," he said.
According to Mr Smail, one of the biggest problems was with so-called condoned truancy, where pupils bunk off with parental knowledge.
The high proportion of youngsters stopped on truancy sweeps who are with their parents highlights that, said Mr Smail. During the last academic year, 299 of the 788 children stopped on truancy sweeps in Solihull were with their parents.