An education lobby group has called on teachers to deploy stricter sanctions against pupils taking unauthorised absences.
Nick Seaton, chair of the Campaign for Real Education, described recent government figures revealing a rise in numbers of absentees as "shocking".
The Department for Children, Schools and Families statistics show that overall absence in primary schools for the first two terms of the 2008/09 school year, stood at 5.46 per cent, compared to 5.35 per cent in autumn 2007 and spring 2008.
Commenting on the figures, Mr Seaton said: "Government ministers, schools, teachers and parents all need to be cutting down on this very seriously."
He added that missing just a few days of school can be a "huge disadvantage" for youngsters and advised schools to "take advantage of all the sanctions they have".
Written by Alan Douglas