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Truancy rate in primary schools up

Rising numbers of primary school children skipped lessons during the spring term as the overall truancy rate rose, official figures have shown.

Almost 69,000 primary and secondary pupils in England missed classes without permission on a typical day through truancy, family holidays, illness and other reasons, an analysis of figures published by the Department for Education suggests.

In total, primary and secondary school children skipped more than 3.7 million days without permission in the spring term, with 1.12% of half days missed due to unauthorised absence, up from 1.10% for the same term in 2009, the figures showed.

This increase was down to a rise in the proportions of primary school children missing classes.

The figures show that primary age children missed 0.74% of half days through unauthorised absence, up from 0.67% in the spring term of last year. In secondary schools the unauthorised absence rate fell slightly from 1.59% to 1.56%.

An increasing number of children are missing lessons because of family holidays taken during term time, the statistics show.

Children missed around 1.4 million school days this spring due to holidays, and around one in four (24%) of these missed sessions were not approved by the school. In total, 0.10% of half days missed were due to unauthorised holidays.

The figures also reveal a drop in overall absence (both authorised and unauthorised) in primary and secondary schools to 5.92% from 6.18% for the same point last year.

The most common reason for pupils missing school was illness.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the small drop in the overall absence rate, and the unauthorised absence rate in secondaries was good news.

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