Pupils skipped 8 million school days last year

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The Independent Online

Children skipped more than eight million days of school last year as the truancy rate soared, official figures show.

Pupils in primary and secondary schools in England missed 1.03 per cent of half days in the autumn term last year and the spring term this year due to unauthorised absence. This is up from 0.97 per cent for the same two terms in 2007-08.

It means that almost 64,800 pupils skipped school without permission on a typical day through truancy, family holidays, illness and other reasons. In total, 8.2 million days were lost due to unauthorised absence.

The Schools minister Vernon Coaker said that missing schools without a good reason was "totally unacceptable". The most common reason for absence was illness, accounting for 59.2 per cent of cases.

Absence for family holidays was the second biggest reason, accounting for 9.7 per cent of absent half days; of these almost a fifth (18.6 per cent) were not authorised.

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