Unauthorised absences at record high for second year

DfE figures also show rise in number of pupils missing school without permission to go on holiday

absence rates

The unauthorised absence rate in state-funded schools is at the highest level since consistent records began in 2006-07.

DfE figures published today show the rate in 2018-19 was 1.4 per cent – the same as last year – compared to 1 per cent in 2006-07.

It includes a rise in unauthorised holiday absence – from 0.1 per cent 2006-07 to 0.4 per cent in 2018-19 – despite a sharp increase in the number of fines issued to parents.


Related: One in 10 pupils misses lessons for unauthorised trips

Quick read: Unauthorised absences hit record high

Stats: Fines for school absence 'increase by a fifth' 


The figures reveal the total number of days missed for overall absence across state-funded primary, secondary and special schools increased by less than one per cent in 2018-19 on the previous year – from 59.1 million to 59.6 million.

However, the DfE report states: “This reflects a rise in the total number of pupils. The average number of days missed per pupil enrolment has remained steady at 8.4 days in both 2017-18 and 2018-19.”

The overall absence rate decreased in primary schools from 4.2 per cent in 2017-18 to 4.0 per cent in 2018-19. In secondary schools the rate remained steady at 5.5 per cent, while in special schools the overall rate decreased slightly from 10.2 per cent to 10.1 per cent.

Illness remains the main driver of absence rates.

The absence rate is calculated by the total number of absence sessions divided by the total number of sessions possible.

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Dave Speck
Dave Speck
Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes
Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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