Skip to main content


Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what proportion of pupils had an attendance record of less than 90 per cent. at schools in England in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. (322013)

In 2005/06, the School Census started to collect attendance data at individual pupil level from secondary schools only. This was extended to primary and special schools in 2006/07. The school level information collected before 2005/06 cannot be used to answer this question.

The available information on the absence rates of pupils in primary, secondary and special schools in 2006/07 and 2007/08 is published as follows:

2006/07—Table 3.2.

2007/08—Table 3.2.

For these tables, less than 90 per cent. attendance will equate to more than 10 per cent. absence.

Information for secondary schools only in 2005/06 is shown in the following table:

State-funded secondary schools1,2,3: percentage of enrolments by their overall absence rates—2005/06 England

Secondary schools1,2

Pupil enrolments in schools during 2005/063

Overall absence rate:



Percentage of overall absence4

More than 10%








1 Includes middle schools as deemed.

2 Includes maintained secondary schools, city technology colleges and academies (including all-through academies).

3 Number of pupil enrolments in schools from start of the school year up until 27 May 2006. Includes pupils on the school roll for at least one session who are aged between five and 15, excluding boarders. Some pupils may be counted more than once (if they moved schools during the school year or are registered in more than one school).

4 The number of sessions missed due to overall absence by pupils with more than 10 per cent. absence expressed as a percentage of the total number of sessions missed due to overall absence.


Totals may not appear to equal the sum of the component parts because numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.

Overall absence in 2007/08 stood at 6.29 per cent. the lowest on record, having fallen for eight of the last 10 years. On average 70,000 more pupils were in school each day in 2007/08 than would be the case if absence rates were still at the level of 1996/97.

Persistent absence in secondary schools accounts for 27.6 per cent. of all overall absence. Schools and local authorities now have to target ‘persistent absentees’. During 2008/09 the Department targeted, through National Strategies, 360 secondary schools, with high levels of persistent absence located within 42 local authorities. Collectively, these 360 schools reduced in 2008/09 their persistently absent pupils by 18 per cent. from the end of spring term 2008 to the end of spring term 2009. This shows our policies are working well and recognises the hard work taking place in schools and local authorities.