Nearly 400,000 pupils missed at least a month of school during the school year 2010/11, according to new Government statistics.
Those with SEN, and children on free school meals, were around three times more likely to be persistently absent.
Releasing the figures, a Department for Education (DfE) statement highlighted “clear evidence of a link between poor attendance at school and low levels of achievement”. Figures for 2009/10 show that only 35 per cent of pupils who missed ten to twenty per cent of school achieved five A* to C grade GCSEs including English and maths. For those who missed 50 per cent of school this figure drops to just three per cent. This contrasts with children who missed less than five per cent of school, 73 per cent of whom achieved five A* to Cs including English and maths.
In keeping with figures for the last five years, unauthorised absence changed by only a very modest amount from 2009/10 to 2010/11 (0.1 per cent), while authorised absence fell by 0.3 per cent during this period. Illness is cited as the most common reason for children missing school, representing almost 60 per cent of absences. Term-time holidays account for nearly ten per cent of absentees.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb acknowledged that persistent absence is a serious problem which can have a major impact on a child’s future. “Children who miss school, miss out as adults”, he said.
The Government has asked its Expert Adviser on behaviour, Charlie Taylor, to conduct a review of attendance at school.
The statistics for pupil absence in schools in England for the school year 2010/11 can be found at: