School pupils missed more lessons last year, official figures show.
The overall absence rate across state-funded primary and secondary schools increased slightly from 4.4 per cent half-days in autumn/spring 2013-14 to 4.5 per cent in autumn/spring 2014-15, government data indicates.
But the percentage of pupils who are, or may become, persistent absentees decreased slightly, and the amount of unauthorised absence remained unchanged at 0.9 per cent.
Officials said the rise in overall absence was driven by an increase in illness – the most common reason for missing school.
Fewer days were lost from pupils being taken out of school to go on holiday. Family holidays – authorised and unauthorised – accounted for 5.6 per cent of all absences in autumn/spring 2014-15, compared with 6.9 per cent in autumn/spring 2013-14.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “Today’s figures show schools are making real progress with almost 200,000 fewer pupils regularly missing school compared to 2010.
“Evidence shows that missing the equivalent of just one week a year from school can damage a pupil’s life chances and reduce a pupil’s chances of succeeding at school.
“We took action to reduce absence in 2010 by taking a tougher approach to children regularly missing lessons and by increasing fines. Together with our reforms to improve behaviour and plans to crack down on truancy by deducting the cost of unpaid fines from Child Benefit, we have put Heads and teachers firmly back in charge of their classrooms so they can extend opportunity and give the pupils the best start to life.”