School absence hits five-year low

By Tristan Donovan, Wednesday 20 March 2013

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Persistent absence from school has fallen for the fifth year in a row, the latest government figures reveal.

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Unauthorised absences from school fell 9.1 per cent between 2010/11 and 2011/12

Statistics issued by the Department for Education show that while 7.7 per cent of pupils missed 15 per cent or more "possible sessions" in 2007/08, the figure for 2011/12 was 5.2 per cent.

Overall absence also declined.

In 2007/08, children missed 6.3 per cent of possible sessions, but in 2011/12 the figure was 5.1 per cent.

Most of the decline between 2010/11 and 2011/12 was due to a fall in authorised absences, which fell 12.8 per cent.

Unauthorised absence fell 9.1 per cent.

The department said several factors helped drive down authorised absences, including fewer flu-like bugs, Eid falling outside term time and a drop in approved term-time holidays.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “The figures show the continued downward trend in absenteeism and are proof of the hard work that school leaders and parents have been doing to tackle issues associated with non-attendance.”

As in previous years, children with special needs and those eligible and claiming free school meals were significantly more likely to be absent from school.

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