Rising numbers of pupils are missing school to go on family holidays

The number of pupils missing school for unauthorised family holidays has increased by 12% in a year, new statistics have revealed.

Thursday, 19th May 2016, 12:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2016, 1:41 pm
Increasing numbers of pupils are going on term-time holidays which have not been agreed by schools.

Figures from the Department for Education show that 270,220 pupils skipped school during the autumn term last year to go on a family holiday which had not been agreed.

Over the same period in 2014 there were 241,290 such absences.

The number of pupils missing school for authorised family holidays, however, fell by 5% to 73,395.

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The figures were released a week after the High Court ruled in favour of a father who took his daughter on holiday to Florida without permission - which schools minister Nick Gibb said represented a "significant threat" to the Government's drive to keep children in school.

Mr Gibb told the House of Commons today that the Government is doing "everything in its power to ensure headteachers are able to keep children in school".

The father, Jon Platt, said after the High Court ruling last week that he had won a victory which would benefit hundreds of other parents facing similar penalties.

He was fined by Isle of Wight Council for taking his daughter out of school for a family holiday to Florida, but the court said he had "no case to answer" because his daughter had attended school "regularly".

The latest figures, obtained from school censuses, also showed that the overall absence rate had decreased.

In autumn 2014, the absence rate was 4.4% in state primary and secondary schools. It fell to 4.1% in autumn 2015 - mainly due to a decline in illness absences.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said that school attendance was "non-negotiable" and that the Government had introduced a range of reforms to crack down on persistent absence.

She said that the reforms were working and that last year there were 200,000 fewer pupils persistently missing school than in 2010.

Ms Morgan said: "Persistent absence rates have almost halved to historic lows in the same period and the number of days missed due to family holidays across the first five half terms of the school year has dropped by 2.7 million since 2009/10.

"Today's figures show that this trend is continuing with year-on-year falls in persistent absence during the autumn term."

She added: "With 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools compared to 2010 and evidence showing every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chance of gaining good GCSEs, it is vital we ensure that every child is in school.

"We make no apology for wanting to see every child in the classroom and will continue to back our school leaders to crack down on persistent absence."