More school pupils playing truant
Rising numbers of pupils are skipping school without permission, official figures have shown.
Statistics published by the Department for Education reveal that the truancy rate rose to 1.1% in 2010/11, up from 1% the year before.
It means that around 62,000 youngsters in primary, secondary and special schools missed sessions without permission on a typical day last year, through truancy, family holidays, illness and other reasons, an analysis of the data suggests.
The figures show that primary age pupils missed 0.7% of sessions due to "unauthorised absence" in the 2010/11 school year, the same as the year before. And secondary school students missed 1.4% of half days, also the same as 2009/10.
The statistics also show that nearly 400,000 youngsters were considered "persistently absent" last year, because they missed at least a month of schooling.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the impact of missing this much time on a pupil's achievement should not be underestimated. He said: "The effect that poor attendance at school can have on a child's education can be permanent and damaging. Children who attend school regularly are four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs, including English and Maths, than those who are persistently absent."
Mr Gibb said that Charlie Taylor, the Government's behaviour tsar, was conducting a review of attendance in schools.
The figures show that authorised absence fell to 4.7% in 2010/11 from 5% the year before. And the overall absence rate dropped to 5.8% from 6%. It means that more than a million pupils missed a half day or more of school each week in 2010/11.
Family holidays during term time accounted for 9.5% of absences, a rise from 9.3% the previous year. Illness remains the main reason for absence, accounting for 58.7% of time missed.
The DfE's data also shows that rising numbers of parents are being issued with fines because their child was failing to attend school. In total, 32,641 penalty notices were issued in 2010/11, up from 25,657 the year before. Of these, 7,902 went unpaid.