Ministers have ordered a crackdown on truancy and absence in primary schools after figures showed a rise in the number of children failing to attend.
Every day an estimated 55,000 children skip school in England
Schools minister Lord Adonis has identified the worst-offending 17 local authorities, urging them to improve attendance among five to 11-year-olds.
Every day 55,000 children skip school in England, official estimates suggest.
But until now the rates of absence among teenagers in secondary schools has been the main area of concern.
A Department for Education and Skills (DfES) spokesman said: "While absence from primary schools is much lower than in secondary schools, it is important that we encourage good attendance habits from an early age.
"This is why we have deployed advisers to work with local authorities to improve attendance rates in the small number of primary schools showing higher absence rates."
Figures circulated to Ofsted inspectors indicate the absence rate for primary schools in England rose from 5.13% to 5.21% in the year to autumn 2005.
The DfES said school attendance overall was at "record levels".
"A small minority of pupils, who miss five weeks or more of schooling in a year, accounts for almost half of all unauthorised absence," the spokesman added.