400,000 pupils miss at least a month of school

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Almost 400,000 persistently absent children missed at least a month of school, according to new DfE figures.
 
The statistics for the 2010/11 school year also show that children on free school meals, or those with special educational needs, were around three times more likely to be persistently absent.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said persistent absence was a serious problem. Much of the work children miss when they are off school is never made up, leaving them at a considerable disadvantage to their peers.

He said: "A hard core of almost 400,000 pupils still missed at least a month of school. We should not underestimate the impact of this on their future prospects.

"The effect that poor attendance at school can have on a child’s education can be permanent and damaging. Children who attend school regularly are four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs, including English and Maths, than those who are persistently absent."

Figures from 2009/10 show that:

  • Of pupils who miss more than 50 per cent of school, only three per cent manage to achieve five A* to Cs, including English and maths.
  • Of pupils who miss between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of school, only 35 per cent manage to achieve five A* to C GCSEs, including English and maths.
  • Of pupils who miss less than five per cent of school, 73 per cent achieve five A* to Cs, including English and maths.

The Government’s Expert Adviser on behaviour, Charlie Taylor, who is carrying out an independent review of attendance in schools, said: "Schools are aware of the consequences of poor attendance on their pupils’ attainment. Some schools go to great lengths to tackle attendance issues and to see the absence rates decreasing is very promising. But as these figures show there is yet more work to be done to reduce the number of pupils who are still persistently absent.

"The earlier schools address poor attendance patterns, the less likely it is that they will become a long term issue. The best primary schools realise this and take a rigorous approach to poor attendance from the very start of school life."
 
He added: "Schools can issue penalty notices to parents whose children persistently miss lessons. But when about 40 per cent of fines are unpaid or withdrawn, it shows the current system is not working."

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