20 million school days missed by pupils last autumn, figures reveals

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Pupils missed about 20 million days of school during last autumn, official figures show.

New statistics show a slight rise in children skipping lessons without permission while the number of youngsters who are "persistently absent" also increased.

The Department for Education (DfE) data also shows that schoolchildren in England were most likely to miss classes due to illness, although it also reveals a hike in the percentage that missed at least a half day of school due to taking unapproved family holidays.

Overall, children at state primaries and secondaries missed 20.1 million school days in the autumn term of last year, up from 19.6 million during the autumn of 2016.

The rise reflects an increase in the total number of pupil enrolments, DfE statisticians said, adding that on average, each missed three days of lessons.

The statistics look at enrolments, rather than individual pupils, which means that children can be counted more than once, for example if they have changed schools in the middle of the academic year.

The data shows that while the overall authorised absence rate fell slightly from 3.3% in autumn 2016, to 3.2% in the autumn term of last year, the unauthorised rate - pupils missing class without permission - rose from 1% to 1.1%.

Illness accounted for 58.3% of all absences last autumn, the figures show, with more than half of all pupil enrolments (58.2%) missing at least half a day due to being sick.

Meanwhile, the proportion of pupils who missed at least half a day due to going on a family trip that had not been approved by the school rose to 5.6% from 5% the previous year.

The proportion of authorised holidays remained at 1.2%.

The figures cover the period after a father, Jon Platt, lost a high-profile Supreme Court case over taking his daughter out of school for a holiday to Disney World, Florida, without permission.

Some 11.5% of pupil enrolments were classified as "persistent absentees" - meaning they missed at least 10% of half days - up from 11.4% in the autumn of 2016.