Absence rate definition
The absence rate is the total number of sessions missed due to overall absence for all pupils as a percentage of the total number of possible sessions for all pupils, where overall absence is the sum of authorised and unauthorised absence and one session is equal to half a day.
The overall absence rate for state-funded primary, secondary and special schools increased from 4.3 per cent in Autumn 2018 to 4.9 per cent in Autumn 2019. The increase occurred across all school types and was mostly driven by an increase in the authorised absence rate, particularly as a result of illness absence which remains the main driver of the absence rate.
Overall absence rates vary by school type. In Autumn 2019 the overall absence rate in
- primary schools was 4.3 per cent,
- secondary schools was 5.6 per cent,
- special schools was 10.5 per cent.
Authorised absence has increased from 3.1 per cent in Autumn 2018 to 3.6 per cent in Autumn 2019. This has been driven by the increase in absence taken due to illness (see “Reasons for absence” section below).
Unauthorised absence has increased from 1.2 per cent in Autumn 2018 to 1.3 per cent in Autumn 2019.
Total number of days missed
The total number of days missed increased for overall absence has increased from 20.8 million in Autumn 2018 to 24.2 million in Autumn 2019. The average number of days missed per enrolment increased from 3.0 days to 3.4 days.
Absence for four year olds
The overall absence rate for four year olds (who are not of compulsory school age) has increased from 4.7 in Autumn 2018 to 5.5 per cent in Autumn 2019.
Absence in pupil referral units
The overall absence rate for pupils in pupil referral units and alternative provision academies and free schools, increased from 33.1 per cent in Autumn 2018 to 34.4 per cent in Autumn 2019.
Authorised absence increased from 18.4 to 19.0 per cent and unauthorised absence also increased from 14.7 to 15.4 per cent.