Prior to 2005 the Department for Education (DfE) collected absence data at school level via the absence in school survey. In 2005 the department began collecting termly pupil-level absence data via the school census for maintained secondary schools, city technology colleges and academies. In 2006 the scope of this data collection was extended to include maintained primary and special schools.
This paper is set out to initially expand on the absence information already available in the public domain, by providing detailed breakdowns on absences by various school and pupil characteristics. It then investigates the attitudes, beliefs, aspirations and experiences of pupils who are persistently absent by the end of their compulsory school education, compared to those of their peers, and contrasts the family background and parental attitudes and aspirations for these pupils against that of their peers.
It draws on data collected via the school census to present the latest trends and statistics on absence for pupils in the maintained education sector in England. It will also present analysis from the national pupil database, which links the school census with attainment in national tests and examinations.