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Volume 493: debated on Tuesday 2 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many school days were lost to truancy in the last 12 months for which figures are available. (272969)

Information is collected on authorised and unauthorised absence.

Unauthorised absence is absence without leave from a teacher or other authorised representative of the school. This includes all unexplained or unjustified absences, such as lateness, holidays during term time not authorised by the school, absence where reason is not yet established and truancy. Information collected by the Department on absence is a more comprehensive measure of children’s missed schooling. Our focus is on reducing all forms of absence, not just a small subset. The issue is not whether the pupil had permission to be absent; it is how much absence the pupil has.

The number of days lost due to absence is shown in the following table.

Primary, secondary and special schools1, 2, number of days of absence3, 2007/08, England

Number of days

Absence rate

Authorised absence



Unauthorised absence



Overall absence



Total possible days


1 Includes city technology colleges and academies.

2 Includes maintained and non-maintained special schools. Excludes general hospital schools.

3 Includes pupils age five to 15 who were on roll for at least one session from the start of the school year up until 23 May 2008, excluding boarders.


Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.


School Census.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many parents in (a) Lancashire and (b) England have appeared in court on charges related to unauthorised absences from school of their children in the last (i) six, (ii) 12 and (iii) 24 months. (277439)

The Ministry of Justice collects data for England and Wales on prosecutions brought against parents under the Education Act 1996 for the offence under s444(1) of failing to secure their child’s regular attendance at school; and for prosecutions under s444(1A), the aggravated offence of knowing that their child is failing to attend school regularly. It is possible, because of the way courts record data that some data are collected under the more general heading of various offences under the Education Act 1996.

The information on the number of parents prosecuted by local authorities in England and Lancashire for failing to secure their children’s regular school attendance between 2006 and 2007 (latest available data) is detail in the following table.

Number of persons proceeded against at magistrates courts for offences under the Education Act 1996 S.444, in the Lancashire police force area, and England, 2006 to 20071,2

Lancashire police force area



Offence description





Education Act 1996 S.444 (1)(8)

Failure to secure regular attendance at school.





Education Act 1996 S.444(8)(la)(8a) added by Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 S.72.

Parent knows that their child is failing to attend school regularly and fails without reasonable justification to cause him or her to attend school.





1 The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

2 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.


Evidence and Analysis Unit—Office for Criminal Justice Reform, Ministry of Justice