Truancy rate in England up by 2%
The truancy rate in England's schools has risen, with increasing numbers of both primary and secondary pupils skipping lessons, official figures show.
The "unauthorised absence" rate for the autumn and spring terms 2010/11 was 1.03%, up from 1.01% in 2009/10 - a two per cent rise.
It means that around 64,500 pupils of all ages skipped school sessions without permission on a typical day in the autumn and spring term through truancy, family holidays, illness and other reasons, an analysis of the figures suggests.
For the autumn and spring terms of 2006/07 the truancy rate stood at 0.97%, meaning it has increased by 6.2% in five years.
All of these figures are for state-funded primary and secondary schools.
In primary schools alone, the truancy rate rose to 0.69%, thought to be a record level, from 0.68% for the same period in 2009/10. And in secondary schools - the truancy rate stood at 1.41%, up from 1.4% the year before.
The most common reason for absence was illness, the figures show. But family holidays accounted for 9% of absences in total. Some 2.54% of absences were for family holidays that were not agreed by the school.
The statistics show that almost half a million children (450,330) missed 15% of school in the autumn and spring terms - the equivalent of more than a month of lessons in a year.
Children who miss 15% of school time are considered "persistent absentees". In the past, children who missed 20% of lessons were considered to be in this category. More than a million pupils missed 10% of school time - the equivalent to missing a half day or more of school a week, the figures suggest.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said: "Children who are absent for substantial parts of their education fall behind and struggle to catch up. By lowering the threshold, we are encouraging schools to crack down on absence before the problem escalates."