We have to be concerned at figures showing that girls are missing a lot more school days than boys.
Even more so when it becomes apparent that the trend in absenteeism in Portsmouth peaks during those critical years of GCSE exams.
In the first two terms of the 2010/11 academic year, girls missed nine days of school, compared with eight for boys.
Alarmingly, that gap is widening. In 2008/9 girls missed 62 more days than boys, but in two terms this year the difference was 79 days.
So why is this? Aren’t girls supposed to be more conscientious in class and better at exams?
Well, a big factor seems to be puberty and its effect on teenage girls.
Mark Marande, Priory’s deputy head, said: ‘It affects things like sleeping patterns, resulting in students coming in late.’
Frankly, we don’t think this is much of an excuse.
Because all those girls who do attend school are dealing with exactly the same changes to their bodies, yet seem able to get out of bed and make it to the classroom.
And what about all those boys who are also having to deal with puberty, yet don’t let it interfere with their schooling?
Too often, we suspect the real reason that pupils don’t turn up is that they just can’t be bothered to do so.
Another reason put forward for the higher absence of girls is that they often stay at home to care for disabled relatives or offer support.
This is something that the government really ought to take seriously, as children should not have to put their futures in jeopardy by missing studies to act as carers.
The fact is that girls who are missing school, for whatever reason, are also missing out on the opportunity for higher attainment.
As Sharon Watt, head of City of Portsmouth Girls, says: ‘We need them to buy into the fact that it’s their future they are spoiling.’
That has to be the key. Somehow, we have to get the message across that skipping lessons now could have implications for the rest of their lives.