Overall attendance improves, but 'persistent absentees' remain
New figures released by the DfE show that while schools are successfully tackling pupil absence in general, a stubborn core of 'persistent absentees' remains.
Statistics on pupil absence in 2010-11 show that overall absence decreased from 6% in 2009-10 to 5.8%, with authorised absence falling from 5% to 4.7%.
Schools minister Nick Gibb welcomed the downward trend, but also noted that rates of unauthorised absence have changed very little over the past five years. He drew attention to a 'hard core' of around 400,000 'persistent absentees' (defined as those who miss 15% or more of school time), only 35% of whom achieve five good GCSEs including English and maths. Pupils on free school meals and those with SEN are around three times more likely to fall into this category, added Mr Gibb.
Ofsted continues to inspect attendance under the behaviour and safety element of the 2012 inspection framework. Schools can improve attendance rates - both authorised and unauthorised - by developing effective systems to tackle the problem, by learning to identify the causes of low attendance, and by tackling parent-led low attendance.