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Definition of "persistent absence" to change

13 July 2011

The Department for Education announced on Tuesday that they are to reduce the threshold at which a pupil is defined as “persistently absent” from 20% to 15% in an attempt to solve truancy in schools. This reduction in the threshold is set to incorporate an additional 246,000 pupils but the move has been criticised by unions for failing to tackle the root cause of truancy.

On a practical level, the reduction in the threshold will impact on Ofsted’s evaluation of pupil attendance, and in some cases this could result in a lower grade. Ofsted has advised that they will explore ways of taking into account the lower threshold within the new framework expected early next year.

The government’s attempts to tackle truancy are unlikely to stop here. Nick Gibb has advised that in the coming months stronger powers for schools to deal with truancy will be announced. It remains to be seen whether these changes will actually deter persistent absences in schools.

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