Absent without learning;Briefing;Analysis;Hot data

15th January 1999 at 00:00
David Blunkett recently hit the headlines when he asked travel agents not to encourage parents to take children on holiday during term-time.

Recent Government figures show massive differences in levels of both authorised and unauthorised absences across the country.

Apart from inner London, both authorised and unauthorised absence rates tend to be higher in the north of England than in the South. The highest rates of authorised absence were in Merseyside where "the average number of half days missed per absent pupil" was 30 half days or about 8 per cent of the school year.

Lowest authorised absence rates were in the South-east, and eastern areas.

The South-west was the only region where authorised absence rates rose between 199697 and 199798, despite a change in definition that allowed work experience or school trips to be deemed equivalent to being present at school rather than an authorised absence.

Unauthorised absence rates are still below the peaks of 199394 but are once again on the rise in some areas.

Falls in the average number of unauthorised half days missed per absent pupil in the North-east and inner London were countered by rises in Merseyside, Yorkshire and the Humber, the South-east and the South-west.

On the alternative measure of per cent of half days missed there was also a more general rise across much of the country with the figure for England as a whole increasing from 1 per cent in 199697 to 1.1 per cent in 199798.

It is clear that a school's achievements are related to attendance levels.

Only 22.7 per cent of pupils in secondary schools with total absence rates of 12 per cent or more gained five GCSE A*-C grades, compared with 69 per cent of pupils in the schools with the lowest absence rates.

The sad fact is that more than 15 per cent of secondary schools in England had overall absence rates in excess of 12 per cent, while only just over 13 per cent had absence rates below 6.5 per cent.

Of course, absence is only one element in a complex picture, but it does suggest that schools seem to work best where pupils can see a purpose for education. Where unemployment rates are high, education may still not be seen by many pupils, and sometimes their parents, as having nothing to offer and certainly not worth forgoing a discount trip in term time.

John Howson is a fellow of Oxford Brookes University and runs an education research company. E-mail: int.edu@lineone.net

Average number of half daysmissed per pupil, 199798

TIME TO CANCEL YOUR HOLIDAY?

Authorised Unauthorised

North East 26 26

North West 27 23

Merseyside 30 25

Yorkshire amp;

The Humber 27 24

East Midlands 25 22

West Midlands 26 19

Eastern 24 16

Inner London 27 23

Outer London 25 19

South East 24 17

South West 25 14

England 26 20

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now