Hardcore truants miss day a week
Seven per cent of secondary pupils now fall into the persistent absentee category, with the figure rising to more than 10 per cent in academies.
The numbers of children playing truant from secondaries increased over the autumn and spring terms, with 1.46 per cent of half-day sessions being missed, up from 1.41 per cent the previous year.
Ministers claimed the increase was explained by schools taking a tougher stance and recording absences more rigorously. This was backed up, they said, by the overall absence rate in secondary schools falling from 8.16 per cent to 7.76 per cent.
However, Conservatives said the latest increases meant the combined truancy rate for primaries and secondaries had reached a 10-year high. Michael Gove, the shadow children's secretary, said schools should be given more power to enforce discipline.
The Tories also accused the Government of dropping its national truancy targets, although this was described as "nonsense" by ministers who said that every local authority had to have its own target.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said a significant proportion of total absence was because of a hardcore of pupils.