Skip to main content

Schools: Truanting

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 19 January 2010

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many school children played truant on average for one day per week during each of the years 1997–98 to 2007–08; what were the total number of days in each of those years that school children played truant; what is the number of days in the current year; and what are the implications for the educational attainment of persistent truants, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. [HL1006]

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 my 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. Those pupils who miss 64 sessions (typically 20 per cent of sessions) are classed as persistent absentees.

The latest available published information on absence is published as SFR 03/2009 “Pupil Absence in Schools in England, including Pupil Characteristics: 2007-08” at http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000832/index.shtml.

Table 4.1 provides the available information on persistent absence (data are not available prior to 2005-06). Table 1.1 shows the percentage of sessions missed due to authorised, unauthorised and overall absence.

The analysis below, shows that KS4 attainment for persistent absentees is lower than for other pupils. We are focusing our efforts on reducing persistent absence and the latest figures available show that the percentage of pupils who are persistent absentees reduced to 3.6 per cent in 2007-08, from 4.1 per cent in the previous year.

2007 KS4 Attainment by Persistent Absence— comparison of selected groups

The percentage of pupils in mainstream maintained schools (including CTC's and academies but excluding special schools) achieving 5+ A*-C including English and maths in 2007

Others

Pupils who were Persistently Absent in both KS years

Girls

50.4%

7.8%

Boys

40.8%

4.7%

White British

46.0%

6.5%

Minority Ethnic

44.5%

5.8%

FSM

23.3%

3.3%

SEN

11.7%

2.2%

EAL

42.4%

5.7%

All Pupils

45.7%

6.4%

The figures show that pupils who are not persistent absentees are seven times more likely to achieve 5+ A*-C including English and maths compared to persistent absentees.

Table 1.1

Primary, Secondary and Special Schools(1) (2) (3): Pupil Absence by type of School

1996-97 to 2007-08

England

1996-97

1997-98

1998-99

1999-00

2000-01

2001-02

Total

Number of day pupils of compulsory school age (4)

6,654,070

6,611,130

6,699,580

6,728,210

6,791,270

6,800,360

Number of pupil enrolments (5)

..

..

..

..

..

..

Percentage of half days missed due to (6)

Authorised absence

6.67

6.68

6.47

6.27

6.68

6.43

Unauthorised absence

0.73

0.78

0.77

0.74

0.76

0.75

Overall absence

7.41

7.45

7.24

7.01

7.44

7.19

Primary Schools (1)

Number of day pupils of compulsory school age (4)

3,770,800

3,730,360

3,734,770

3,719,190

3,741,370

3,704,090

Number of pupil enrolments (5)

..

..

..

..

..

..

Percentage of half days missed due to (6)

Authorised absence

5.58

5.71

5.39

5.19

5.59

5.40

Unauthorised absence

0.48

0.50

0.49

0.47

0.49

0.45

Overall absence

6.06

6.21

5.89

5.66

6.08

5.85

Secondary Schools (1)(2)

Number of day pupils of compulsory school age (4)

2,802,350

2,799,590

2,885,420

2,930,540

2,969,980

3,016,860

Number of pupil enrolments (5)

Percentage of half days missed due to (6):

Authorised absence

8.06

7.90

7.79

7.57

7.97

7.62

Unauthorised absence

1.01

1.09

1.07

1.04

1.06

1.09

Overall absence

9.06

9.00

8.86

8.61

9.03

8.71

Special Schools (3)

Number of day pupils of compulsory school age (4)

80,920

81,180

79,390

78,480

79,920

79,410

Number of pupil enrolments (5)

Percentage of half days missed due to (6)

Authorised absence

8.68

8.60

8.55

8.30

9.15

8.88

Unauthorised absence

2.56

2.69

2.48

2.17

2.29

2.10

Overall absence

11.24

11.29

11.02

10.48

11.44

10.98

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Total

Number of day pupils of compulsory school age (4)

6,793,940

6,768,720

6,704,920

6,568,160

6,332,070

6,244,890

Number of pupil enrolments (5)

..

..

..

..

6,582,430

6,478,700

Percentage of half days missed due to (6)

Authorised absence

6.25

5.96

5.77

6.05

5.49

5.28

Unauthorised absence

0.74

0.76

0.81

0.92

1.00

1.01

Overall absence

6.98

6.72

6.58

6.96

6.49

6.29

Primary Schools (1)

~

Number of day pupils of compulsory school age(4)

3,665,170

3,617,430

3,565,050

3,509,550

3,306,900

3,263,380

Number of pupil enrolments (5)

..

..

..

..

3,463,120

3,412,000

Percentage of half days missed due to (6)

Authorised absence

5.38

5.08

5.00

5.30

4.66

4.69

Unauthorised absence

0.43

0.41

0.43

0.45

0.52

0.57

Overall absence

5.81

5.49

5.43

5.76

5.18

5.26

Secondary Schools (1)(2)

Number of day pupils of compulsory school age (4)

3,049,580

3,072,960

3,063,120

2,983,050

2,952,350

2,910,520

Number of pupil enrolments (5)

3,056,330

3,042,077

2,989,290

Percentage of half days missed due to (6):

Authorised absence

7.20

6.92

6.57

6.82

6.36

5.87

Unauthorised absence

1.07

1.14

1.23

1.42

1.52

1.49

Overall absence

8.27

8.06

7.81

8.24

7.87

7.36

Special Schools (3)

Number of day pupils of compulsory school age (4)

79,190

78,340

76,750

75,550

72,810

70,990

Number of pupil enrolments (5)

..

..

..

..

77,230

77,400

Percentage of half days missed due to (6):

Authorised absence

8.85

8.64

8.61

8.79

8.55

8.41

Unauthorised absence

1.98

1.86

1.87

1.80

2.07

2.16

Overall absence

10.83

10.50

10.48

10.59

10.62

10.57

Source: Absence in Schools Survey and School Census (7)

(1) Includes middle schools as deemed.

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

(3) Includes maintained and non-maintained special schools. Excludes general hospital schools, independent special schools and independent schools approved for SEN pupils. Previously published figures for 1996-97 to 2005-06 included independent special schools and independent schools approved for SEN pupils and will therefore differ from those in Table 1.1 .

(4) Pupil numbers are as at January 2008. Includes pupils aged 5 to 15 with sole and dual (main) registration. Excludes boarders.

(5) Number of pupil enrolments in schools from start of the school year up until 23 May 2008. Includes pupils on the school roll for al least one session who are aged between 5 and 15, excluding boarders. Some pupils may be counted more than once (if they moved schools during the school year or are registered at more than one school). See Notes to Editors 11 to 13.

(6) The number of sessions missed due to authorised/unauthorised/overall absence expressed as a percentage of the total number of possible sessions.

(7) Figures in italics have been sourced from the absence in schools survey. Other figures are derived from school census returns. Totals provided for 2005-06 combine figures from both sources. See Notes to Editor 9. Dashed lines in time series indicate changes in the underlying data source.

.. Not available

. Not applicable

Table 4.1

Primary, Secondary and Special Schools(1) (2) (3): Persistent Absentees (4)

2007/08

England

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Primary Schools (1)

Number of pupil enrolments that are persistent absentees (4)(5)

..

60,960

56,750

Total number of pupil enrolments (5)

..

3,463,120

3,412,000

Percentage of pupil enrolments that are persistent absentees

..

1.8

1 7

Percentage of half days missed by persistent absentees due to (6)

Authorised Absence

..

2222

21.46

Unauthorised Absence

..

7,82

849

Overall absence

..

3003

2995

Percentage of absence for which persistent absentees are responsible (7)

Authorised Absence

..

84

7.6

Unauthorised Absence

..

26.4

24.8

Overall absence

..

10.3

9.5

Secondary Schools (1)(2)

Number of pupil enrolments that are persistent absentees (4)(5)

217,390

203,180

168,140

Total number of pupil enrolments (5)

3,056,330

3,042,080

2,989,290

Percentage of pupil enrolments that are persistent absentees

7.1

67

5.6

Percentage of half days missed by persistent absentees due to (6)

Authorised Absence

23.21

22.41

21.14

Unauthorised Absence

12.26

13.86

15.38

Overall absence

35.48

3627

36.52

Percentage of absence for which persistent absentees are responsible (7)

Authorised Absence

24.0

23.5

20.1

Unauthorised Absence

60.9

609

57.6

Overall absence

30.4

30.7

27.7

Special Schools (3)

Number of pupil enrolments that are persistent absentees (4)(5)

..

8,820

8,450

Total number of pupil enrolments (5)

..

77,230

77,400

Percentage of pupil enrolments that are persistent absentees

..

11.4

109

Percentage of half days missed by persistent absentees due to (6)

Authorised Absence

..

29.27

29.12

Unauthorised Absence

..

12.95

13.85

Overall absence

..

42,22

42.97

Percentage of absence for which persistent absentees are responsible (7)

Authorised Absence

..

41.6

40.4

Unauthorised Absence

..

76.0

75.0

Overall absence

..

48.3

47.5

Total

Number of pupil enrolments that are persistent absentees (4)(5)

..

272,950

233,340

Total number of pupil enrolments (5)

..

6,582,430

6,478,700

Percentage of pupil enrolments that are persistent absentees

..

4.1

3.6

Percentage of half days missed by persistent absentees due to (6)

Authorised Absence

..

22.59

21 .50

Unauthorised Absence

..

12.48

13.64

Overall absence

..

35.07

35.15

Percentage of absence for which persistent absentees are responsible (7)

Authorised Absence

..

17.1

14.6

Unauthorised Absence

..

51.8

48.3

Overall absence

..

22.5

20.1

Source: School Census

(1) Includes middle schools as deemed.

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

(3) Includes maintained and non-maintained special schools. Excludes general hospital schools.

(4) Persistent Absentees are defined as having more than 63 sessions of absence (authorised and unauthorised) during the year, typically over 20 per cent overall absence rate.

(5) Number of pupil enrolments in schools from start of the school year to 23 May 2008. Includes pupils on the school roll for at least one session who are aged between 5 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). See Notes to Editors 11 to 13.

(6) The number of sessions missed due to authorised/unauthorised/overall absence expressed as a percentage of the total number of possible sessions.

(7) The total number of sessions missed due to authorised/unauthorised/overall absence by persistent absentees expressed as a percentage of the total number of sessions missed due to authorised/unauthorised/overall absence by all pupil enrolments.

.. Not available

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