Attendance levels in Bristol’s primary schools are inferior to those of the core cities, its statistical neighbours and England as a whole (see next chart), but have improved slightly between 2008/09 and 2009/10. This improvement (from 6.38% to 6.29%) reversed the deterioration of the previous two years. These fluctuations are all slight, and show that attendance rates are very stable.
Percentage of half days missed in Primary Schools due to overall absence (authorised and unauthorised).
The absenteeism rate for Persistent Absentees increased noticeably in 2009/10, from 2.1% to 2.4%, in contradiction to a general nationwide improvement, as is evident from the following graph:
Percentage of persistent absentees in Primary Schools
Attendance levels have improved year on year since 2005/06 and the gap between Bristol and national levels continues to close.
Percentage of half days missed in Secondary Schools due to overall absence (authorised and unauthorised).
Increasing attention is being focussed on pupils who are defined as Persistent Absentees, and hence the existence of a National Indicator to measure persistent absenteeism (NI87). Persistent absentees are defined as having 64 or more sessions of absence (authorised and unauthorised) during the year, around 20 per cent overall absence rate. In 2010 the percentage of persistent absentees in Bristol dropped marginally from 6.1% to 6.0% following three years of stronger improvements.
Other pupil characteristics differences
In Bristol boys have a slightly better attendance rate than girls. In 2009/10 the overall absenteeism rate for girls was 7.5% whereas for boys it was 7.3%. Nationally, boys also have a slightly better attendance rate than girls.
With regards to ethnicity, Bristol’s BME pupils have a slightly worse attendance rate than those from a non-BME background; in 2009/10 the BME group were absent for 7.8% of the time and the non-BME group 7.2%. Again, this disparity is echoed at a national level.
Those eligible for free school meals in Bristol have worse attendance rates than those that do not. In 2009/10 the gaps was 2.7 percentage points (90.41% against 93.15). This gap also exists at a national level.
Comparing those with Special Educational Needs with those that don’t it is the case that SEN pupils have worse attendance figures. In 2009/10 they were absent for 9.7% of the time as opposed to 7.5% for non-SEN pupils.
Finally, for Bristol’s Looked After Children, absenteeism stood at 8.1% in 2009/10, an improvement of 2 percentage points on the previous year. The percentage of those missing 25 or more days dropped from 17.2% in 2008/09 to 11.7% in 2009/10.
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