A termly analysis of official data relating to absence from schools.

The number of severely absent pupils has soared by 133.6 per cent since the pandemic. In Spring 2023, 140,706 pupils were absent more often than they were present (severely absent), 1.96 per cent of the school population. This is a return to the record levels seen in Summer 2022. This compares with 60,244 who were severely absent in Autumn 2019, the last full term before the pandemic, equating to an additional 80,462 pupils.

It is vulnerable children who are affected most. In Autumn 2022, the latest term for which data is available, children in receipt of Free School Meals (FSM) had a severe absence rate which was triple the rate for children who were not eligible for FSM. Children in receipt of special educational needs (SEN) support are also more likely to be severely absent than their peers.

Persistent absence is still at a concerningly high level compared to pre-pandemic. 1,476,165 pupils were persistently absent in Spring 2023, which equates to 20.6 per cent of all pupils. This is a decrease on the previous term, Autumn 2022, but is an increase of 60.0% since before the pandemic.

The overall absence rate in Spring 2023 was 7.0 per cent. This is an increase of 2.1 percentage points since before the pandemic.

For full analysis including, school type, region and gender — download the report.

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