Persistent absentees figure in Yorkshire schools falls by half but remains highest in the country

Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA
Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA
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THE NUMBER of pupils in Yorkshire who are persistently absent from school has fallen by more than half in the last seven years but is still higher than anywhere else in the country according to the latest figures.

The statistics also show that nationally the number of children missing lessons has fallen to a new low, with Government officials suggesting that this drop was down to tough new rules on holidays which mean that head teachers can now only grant permission for trips during term time in “exceptional circumstances”.

Previously, school leaders could grant up to 10 days leave a year for family holidays in special circumstances. New figures show that in total, England’s primary and secondary pupils missed 35.7 million days of school in the autumn and spring terms of 2013/14 - down around 4.2 million from the same two terms the year before. The overall authorised absence rate - time off approved by schools - alone has dropped from 4.3 per cent to 3.5 per cent, with statisticians suggesting that this is down to a decrease in illness and agreed family holidays. The new figures show attendance rates for the Autumn term of 2013 and Spring of this year. Yorkshire has the highest level of persistent absentees in the country - children who miss more than 38 half days a year. However there has been a major drop in the figure in recent years. In 2006/07 there were 62,275 missing this amount of lessons - almost ten per cent of Yorkshire school pupils.

In 2009/10 there were 50,635 Yorkshire pupils in this category - 7.8 per cent and by last year it had fallen to 35,150 - 5.4 per cent. Now the latest figures show 29,950 pupils were persistently absent in the first two terms of the 2013/14 academic year - 4.6 per cent. In total, 2.5 million school days were lost nationally because of family holidays, both those authorised by the school and unauthorised, down 0.8 million from 3.3 million the year before. The truancy, or unauthorised absence rate has also fallen slightly to 0.9 per cent from one per cent.

School Reform Minister Nick Gibb said: “Our plan for education is getting more young people than ever before back in class, helping thousands more to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.”