School absence tracker

Think tank: Centre for Social Justice

Author(s): Beth Prescott; Sam Robertson; Alice Wilcock

May 22, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Centre for Social Justice provides a termly analysis of official data relating to absence from schools.

The number of severely absent pupils has soared by 108 per cent since the pandemic. In Autumn 2022, 125,222 pupils were absent more often than they were present (severely absent), 1.7 per cent of the school population. This compares with 60,244 who were severely absent in the same term in 2019, equating to an additional 64,978 pupils. It is vulnerable children who are affected most. In the 2021/22 academic year, children who are in receipt of Free School Meals had a severe absence rate which was more than triple the rate for children who were not eligible for FSM. Children in receipt of SEN support are also more likely to be severely absent than their peers. Persistent absence has also remained at a concerningly high level since the pandemic. 1,742,722 pupils were persistently absent this term, which equates to 24.2 per cent of all pupils. This compares to 922,566 pupils before the pandemic. The overall absence rate in Autumn 2022 was 7.5 per cent. This is an increase of 2.6 percentage points since before the pandemic. For full analysis including, school type, region and gender — download the report.