On the map Absenteeism - Deprivation remains key in poor pupil attendance

29th April 2011 at 01:00

Good news: the percentage of persistent pupil absentees fell between 200809 and 200910 in England in all income deprivation deciles, contributing to a fall in overall absence, as measured by the percentage of half-days missed per pupil.

But there is still a wide gulf between absence rates in the most deprived areas and those in England's more affluent areas.

The percentage of persistent absentees among the most deprived 10 per cent of pupils in the country fell from 5.7 per cent to 4.6 per cent between 200809 and 200910. In the least deprived decile, the fall was from 1.3 per cent to 1.1 per cent.

The latter group also had the smallest proportion of unauthorised absences: 0.35 per cent of half-days missed per year, compared with 1.93 per cent for pupils in the most deprived decile. Deprivation was measured using the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI), which ranks a pupil's home postcode on a scale of 1 (most deprived) to 32,482.

In the academies opened under the Labour government, the percentage of half-days missed through unauthorised absence increased between the two years. The proportion of persistent absentees also rose in the 27 academies opened between 2002 and 2006, but there were marked improvements in curbing this behaviour in the 30 academies opened in the following two years.

The percentage of all absences - authorised, unauthorised and persistent - increased as the deprivation score rose, largely because unauthorised absence was higher in more deprived areas. Persuading pupils in deprived areas of the value of schooling has never been easy. Thus, a few parents end up in prison each year for failing to send their children to school.

Most authorised absence was due to ill-health, with family holidays the second most common reason.

The Department for Education will have to account for the number of sessions lost during the past two years because of snow and other bad weather. It would be interesting to see if those figures also correlate with deprivation levels.

John Howson is director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today