The recent attendance data shows an alarming rise in severe absenteeism in schools


The latest government data on school attendance for the autumn term of 2023 reveals an alarming increase in the number of severely absent pupils in England. The data shows that 142,487 pupils were severely absent, up from 125,222 in the 2022/23 academic year. This rate is now more than double the pre-pandemic level of 0.9% recorded in 2019/2020.


Despite improvements in reducing persistent absenteeism, which fell to 1,407,802 pupils (19.43%) from the previous term, the escalating rates of severe absenteeism highlight the ongoing challenges faced by schools and families in ensuring regular school attendance. 


Jaine Stannard, CEO of School-Home Support, analysing these data said:

“School attendance is still at crisis levels and continues to act as  a monumental barrier to opportunity which we must remove for every child.

We know that schools are working really hard to keep children in schools safe and engaged in their learning and we are seeing parents doing their best to send their children to school while coping with challenging situations like inadequate housing, poverty  and mental health issues.

However, the need for targeted interventions and continued support for the most vulnerable children, young people and families is more critical than ever. 

We must work together with the government, local authorities, schools and families to address this alarming rise in severe absenteeism now”


Attendance data highlights

  • 142,487 (2.0%) severely absent pupils – (up from 125,222 in 2022/23). The rate is now more than double the rate pre-pandemic when it was 0.9% in 2019/2020.
  • Top 10 Persistent Absence % by geographical information 
    • Knowsley, Blackpool, Sunderland, County Durham, Middlesbrough, South Tyneside, Hartlepool, Bradford, Plymouth, Rochdale
  • Top 10 Severe Absence % by geographical information 
    • Torbay, Middlesbrough, Newcastle upon Tyne, Sheffield, Bristol, Bradford, East Sussex, Portsmouth, Liverpool, Gateshead
  • Persistent absence rates have decreased across all school types, however severe absence increased with rates remaining at record levels. 
  • 1,407,802 (19.43%) persistently absent pupils (down from 1,742,722). The largest drop was found in primary schools where persistent absence fell from 20.9% to 15.4%. This is the first official drop under 20% since all children returned to school post-pandemic.