Thousands of children regularly missing from East Riding schools

Department for Education data shows that 3,652 pupils at state primaries and secondaries in the East Riding were classed as persistently absent in the autumn 2018 and spring 2019 terms ' 9% of those enrolled. Photo: PA Images.
Department for Education data shows that 3,652 pupils at state primaries and secondaries in the East Riding were classed as persistently absent in the autumn 2018 and spring 2019 terms ' 9% of those enrolled. Photo: PA Images.

Thousands of children were regularly missing from the East Riding of Yorkshire’s schools during the first two terms last year, figures show.

Across England, the rate of persistently absent pupils – those who miss at least 10% of school time – dropped slightly, but only back to 2015-16 levels.

Department for Education data shows that 3,652 pupils at state primaries and secondaries in the East Riding were classed as persistently absent in the autumn 2018 and spring 2019 terms – 9% of those enrolled.

In secondary schools only, the figure climbs to 13%.

The overall persistent absence rate dropped, from 11% in 2017-18, in line with the national trend.

On average, it meant the East Riding pupils missed five days of school in the first two terms last year.

Authorised absences, such as for illness or medical appointments, accounted for 78% of time off.

The rest were unauthorised, including those for truancy or arriving late.

Family holidays, for which permission was not given by the school, made up more than a third of unauthorised absences.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that missed days can be harmful to a child’s education, and that term-time absence must only be allowed in “exceptional circumstances”.

But he said the system of fines, whereby councils can hand parents £60 penalties for their child’s unauthorised absence, is a blunt instrument that often “drives a wedge between schools and families”.

A DfE spokeswoman said: “Tackling persistent absence is a priority for the Government and it is encouraging to see a decrease in persistent and overall absence compared to last year.

“The rules on term-time absences are clear. No child should be taken out of school without good reason.”