More than a fifth of schoolchildren in England were persistently absent from lessons last year as the number of pupils off for at least 10% of the time almost doubled to more than 1.6 million, new data suggests.

Some 22.5% of pupils at special schools and state-funded primaries and secondaries were deemed “persistent absentees” in the 2021/22 school year, losing the equivalent of at least 19 days of teaching.

The Department for Education figures indicate an increase of 10.4 percentage points on 2020/21’s figures, when persistent absentees stood at 12.1% of all pupils.

Of those persistently absent, 120,000 missed 50% or more of their lessons, up from 60,000 before the pandemic in 2018/19.

EdCentral Logo