Press release

Persistent pupil absence falls by a third

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The number of schoolchildren regularly missing school has fallen by almost 140,000 over the past 2 years.

The figures for the first two terms of the 2012-to-2013 academic year show:

  • 139,750 fewer children missed 15% or more of school - equivalent to missing one-and-a-half years of a whole school career - compared to two years ago
  • the number missing 15% or more of school is down from 450,330 in the 2010-to-2011 academic year to 310,580 in the 2012-to-2013 academic year
  • 65,540 fewer children missed 20% or more of school - equivalent to missing two years of a whole school career - compared to two years ago
  • the number missing 20% or more of school is down from 199,370 in the 2010-to-2011 academic year to 133,830 in the 2012-to-2013 academic year

The government has taken the following action to reduce persistent absence:

  • in October 2011 the government reduced the definition of ‘persistent absence’ used to hold schools to account from 20% to 15%, in order to encourage schools to address the problem at an earlier stage
  • in September 2012 fines for truancy were increased from £50 to £60, and from £100 to £120 if not paid within 28 days
  • from last month the time limit for paying the penalties was reduced from 42 to 28 days

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said:

It is vital all children attend as much school as possible. That is why we have increased fines for truancy and encouraged schools to tackle persistent absence at an earlier stage.

We know that poor attendance can have a hugely damaging effect on a child’s education.

Children who attend school regularly are four times more likely to achieve 5 or more good GCSEs than those who are persistently absent.

Notes to editors

  1. The figures for pupil absence in schools in England: autumn 2012 and spring 2013 are available to download
  2. Figures on overall and persistent absence in the 2011-to-2012 academic year were affected by unusually low levels of flu-like illness in schools along with the religious festival Eid falling out of term time. However, today’s figures confirm that the reductions in persistent absence shown in the 2011-to-2012 two-term figures have been maintained in the 2012-to-2013 academic year.
  3. Of pupils who miss between 10% and 20% of school, only 39% manage to achieve five A* to C GCSEs including English and maths. Of pupils who miss less than five% of school, 73% achieve five A* to Cs including English and maths.

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