Attendance has been steadily improving in the last few years, but there were still 57 million days of school missed in 2009 to 2010. The evidence shows that children with poor attendance are unlikely to succeed academically and they are more likely not to be in education, employment or training (NEET) when they leave school.
Despite the improvements in attendance there remain a small number of children who are persistently absent (PA). Until recently PA applied to pupils who missed more than 20% of school in any term. From September 2011, this threshold was lowered to include those who missed more than 15%. This change will ensure that pupils are identified as having problems at an earlier stage, but this still tends to put the emphasis on secondary school ‘truants’ where there are the highest numbers of PA pupils.