Secondary Education: Truancy

Department for Education written question – answered at on 21 November 2023.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will make an assessment of the implications for her policies of trends in the level of truancy in secondary schools since 2020.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Minister of State (Education)

Improving attendance remains a top priority for the Department. The Department is implementing a comprehensive attendance strategy to ensure that absence is minimised, and rates are returned to pre-pandemic levels as soon as possible.

In 2022, the Department published stronger expectations of schools, trusts, governing bodies and Local Authorities in the ‘Working together to improve school attendance’ guidance. This guidance is available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1099677/Working_together_to_improve_school_attendance.pdf. The Department now expects all schools to appoint a champion, and Local Authorities and schools are to agree individual plans for persistently absent children. The Department has expanded attendance hubs supporting 800 schools with over 400,000 pupils. To help identify children at risk of persistent absence and to enable early intervention, the Department established a timelier flow of pupil level attendance data through the daily attendance data collection. 86% of state funded schools are now signed up to this.

Across all phases, around 380,000 fewer pupils were persistently absent or not attending in 2022/23 than in 2021/22. Daily data for 2022/23 show school absence of 9.3% in secondary schools, down from 10.0% absent or not attending school for covid related reasons in 2021/22. Further absence data from the School Census is available here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/pupil-absence-in-schools-in-england.

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