Unauthorised absence rate highest since records began

Unauthorised pupil absence rates have reached the highest on record, new government figures show.

Statistics released today show that the rate of unauthorised pupil absence rose from 1.1 per cent in 2015-16 to 1.3 per cent in 2016-17.

This means the unauthorised absence rate is now at its highest since records began in 2006-7.

The overall absence rate across state-funded primary, secondary and special schools rose from 4.6 per cent in 2015-16 to 4.7 per cent in 2016-17.

This rise was driven by an increase in the rate of overall absence in secondary and special schools, rising in secondary schools from 5.2 per cent to 5.4 per cent, and in special schools from 9.1 per cent to 9.7 per cent.

The rate in primary schools remained stable at 4 per cent.

The DfE says the increased in unauthorised absence can be blamed on family holidays that have not been agreed by the school. The percentage of pupils who missed at least one day due to family holidays in 2016-17 was 16.9 per cent, compared with 14.7 per cent the year before.

The overall rate of authorised absences has not changed since 2015-16, at 3.4 per cent. In both 2015-16 and 2016-17, the absence rate due to agreed family holidays was 0.1 per cent.

Persistent absentees accounted for 37.6 per cent of all absence in 2016-17, compared to 36.6 per cent the year before. However, this still shows a decrease from 2011-12, when persistent absentees accounted for 43.3 per cent of all absences.

The total number of days missed due to overall absence has increased from 54.8 million in 2015-16 to 56.7 million in 2016-17. The average number of days missed per enrolment has increased from 8.1 days in 2015-16 to 8.2 days in 2016-17.

In 2016-17, 91.8 per cent of pupils missed at least one session during the school year. This figure was 91.7 per cent the year before.


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