Almost 6,000 children absent from Wiltshire schools

Almost 6,000 children absent from Wiltshire schools

Published by Henrietta Creasey at 5:51am 21st October 2019.

2 minute read

One in ten children were classed as persistently absent in the first two terms of the last academic year.

Department for Education data shows that 5,945 pupils at state primaries and secondaries in Wiltshire were classed as persistently absent in the autumn 2018 and spring 2019 terms

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

On average, it meant Wiltshire pupils missed six days of school in the first two terms last year.

Authorised absences, such as for illness or medical appointments, accounted for 81% 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 almost a quarter of unauthorised absences.

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Almost one in four unauthorised absences at Wiltshire Schools are due to family holidays.

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".

He added:

"The real problem is holiday pricing. Neither parents nor schools set the prices of holidays.

"They will both continue to be caught between a rock and hard place without some sensible government intervention."

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.

We have put head teachers back in control by supporting them – and local authorities – to use their powers to deal with unauthorised absence."

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