Unauthorised absences continue to rise

The rate at which pupils are absent from English schools without permission has risen again this year.

New data for the autumn of 2017 and spring of 2018 shows the rate of unauthorised absence from primary and secondary schools was 1.2 per cent over the period, up from 1.1 per cent in the same period the previous year.

The increase is due to a rise in the number of unauthorised holidays and other unauthorised circumstances, the government said.

The absence rate for schools overall was 4.7 per cent, up from 4.5 per cent in the same period the previous year.

Illness is still the main driver of pupil absence, accounting for 60 per cent of all absence in autumn 2017 and spring 2018, down from 60.1 per cent the previous year.

The proportion of sessions missed as a result of unauthorised family holidays remains stable at 0.3 per cent this year, but the proportion of pupils who missed at least one session because of a family holiday rose from 9.4 per cent to 9.6 per cent.

Pupils eligible for free school meals continue to have much higher rates of absence than non-FSM pupils, at 7.3 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively.

And those with statements of special educational needs or education, health and care plans had an absence rate of 7.5 per cent, compared with 4.4 per cent for those with no identified SEND.