School attendance crisis: One in four secondary students persistently absent

We need “more boots on the ground” knocking on doors if we are to bring down continuing high levels of persistent absence.
Image: Adobe Stock

Official figures for the autumn term (DfE, 2024) show that persistent absence has improved year-on-year, but is still running at 20.1%.

However, at secondary level it is even higher, at 24.6% – meaning that a quarter of students missed 10% or more of their school sessions during the autumn term.

The figures are even worse for students on free schools meals (FSMs) with one third (33%) being persistently absent during autumn term.

Overall, attendance levels from September to December hit 93.2%, dropping to 91.6% for secondary schools and 89.6% for students on free schools meals (FSMs).

One bright point is that figures for the first week of January show marginal improvements of 0.2% on the average absence rates recorded during the autumn term.

Register now, read forever

Thank you for visiting SecEd and reading some of our content for professionals in secondary education. Register now for free to get unlimited access to all content.

What's included:

  • Unlimited access to news, best practice articles and podcast

  • New content and e-bulletins delivered straight to your inbox every Monday and Thursday


Already have an account? Sign in here