Nearly 33,000 students are regularly missing school in Lancashire, new figures show

The rate of students in Lancashire persistently absent from school has doubled since the pandemic hit, new figures show.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Analysis figures from the Department for Education show 32,945 students in state-funded schools across Lancashire missed a tenth or more of sessions.

The school day is split into a morning and afternoon session, with every child expected to attend all sessions.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

These students accounted for 20.3% of the 162,334 students enrolled in the area during the 2022-23 academic year.

In Lancashire, 3,975,000 of 56,277,000 school sessions were missed (Credit: PA)In Lancashire, 3,975,000 of 56,277,000 school sessions were missed (Credit: PA)
In Lancashire, 3,975,000 of 56,277,000 school sessions were missed (Credit: PA)

It was up significantly from 10% in 2018-19, before the pandemic.

School leaders' union NAHT said significant bolstering of funds to support students is needed if the Government is "serious about getting more pupils back into the classroom".

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, said: "School leaders and teachers are doing all they can to reverse the increase in pupils who are persistently absent post-pandemic, and we are pleased to see the number of children coming back into school is moving in the right direction.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"However, absence rates are still significantly higher than before Covid and much more needs to be done to bring them down."

Across England, 1.6 million pupils were persistently absent – making up 21.2% of students.

It is a slight improvement from 22.5% in 2021-22, but nearly double the level in 2018-19 when just 10.9% of pupils were persistently absent.

In Lancashire, 3,975,000 of 56,277,000 school sessions were missed.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Of these absences, 1,171,000 (2.1%) were unauthorised. It was up from 1.2% in 2018-19.

Nationally, the level of unauthorised absences nearly doubled, from 1.4% of sessions in 2018-19 to 2.4% in the last academic year.

Mr Whiteman added: "If the Government is serious about getting more pupils back into the classroom, there must be a significant bolstering of funding for the services that support schools including children’s social care, and mental health."

The DfE recently announced a series of measures as part of its drive to boost attendance after the pandemic – including increasing fines for parents taking children out of school without permission.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

School absence fines for unauthorised absences currently start at £60, rising to £120 if they are not paid within 21 days. From this autumn, they will instead start at £80, rising to £160.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Advertising slogans and attendance hubs are just not going to make a tangible difference to pupils who are missing days or weeks of school at a time. We have to be far more ambitious."

He added: "If absence rates remain at these levels then the future prospects of thousands of young people are going to be jeopardised. They quite simply deserve better."

A DfE spokesperson said: "Thanks to our fantastic teachers and school leaders, and our package of wide-ranging reforms designed to support schools to improve attendance, we are already seeing rapid improvement, with now 440,000 fewer children persistently absent or not attending last year alone.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We know that some children face greater barriers to attendance, like pupils with long term medical conditions or special educational needs and disabilities, which is why our guidance ensures schools work with pupils and families to respond to each pupils' individual needs."

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.