Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 14:23 UK

Autumn truancy figures show rise

group of teenagers in street
Persistent truants account for much of the total

The latest truancy figures for England show another rise, with an increasing number of pupils missing school to go on holiday.

The absence rate for primary and secondary schools rose from 6.26% in autumn 2007 to 6.42% last autumn.

The most common reasons given were sickness and family holidays, according to data from the government.

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said the figures were "a concern", but absence rates had fallen over the last decade.

In total last autumn term, 60,700 primary and secondary pupils missed classes on a typical day. Almost 38,000 were classed as "persistent absentees", missing one day of school a week.

In primary schools, the overall absence rate (which measures the total possible number of school sessions against those missed) was 5.61%. That is an increase from 5.36% in the autumn 2007 term.

In state secondary schools, the rate was 7.34% - up from 7.27% in autumn 2007.

Holidays

The biggest reason given for absence was illness, accounting for 58.9% of authorised absence in primary and secondary schools.

Holidays taken in term time but agreed by the school made up 9.5% of the authorised absence.

In total, 0.14% of half days were missed due to unauthorised family holidays, up from 0.09% in autumn 2007.

Schools minister Vernon Coaker said: "By far the biggest factor in the increases in absence this autumn compared with last year is absence through illness, which is a factor outside schools' control".

"It's important to remember that the trend over the last decade has been positive, and there are now on average 70,000 more pupils in school each day than would be the case if absence rates were still at the level of 1996/97.

"This is thanks to schools taking a much tougher line with pupils and parents."

"It's important to remember that most pupils never miss school unless they are ill, indeed just 17% of pupils account for over half of all absence," he said.



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