Youngsters' chances of succeeding at school can be cut by almost a quarter if they take even short breaks, new research has revealed.
Figures published by the Department for Education show that 44 per cent of pupils with no absence in key stage four (normally aged 16) achieve the English Baccalaureate - a key qualification that includes English, maths, science, history or geography and a language.
However, this figure falls by a quarter to just 31.7 per cent for pupils who miss just 14 days of lessons over the two years that they study for their GCSEs. This equates to around one week per year, and to 16.4 per cent for those who miss up to 28 days.
This pattern is also evident at primary school level, where youngsters who miss up to just 14 days of school in key stage two (normally age 11) see their chances of achieving level five or above in reading, writing or maths tests fall by a quarter compared with those who are never absent.
The government says the research demonstrates the importance of clamping down on pupil absence to ensure youngsters have a better chance of success.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan said: "Fewer pupils than ever before now regularly skip class, while more pupils than ever before are leaving school with a place in education, employment or training.
"But [this] research shows we must never slip in our mission to ensure all pupils leave school properly prepared for life in modern Britain."
The research also shows that pupils with the lowest five per cent of absence rates are more than four times more likely to achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths, than those with the highest five per cent. They are also 22 times more likely to achieve the English Baccalaureate.
In addition, those who are never absent are almost three times more likely to achieve five A* to C GCSEs, including English and maths, than those who miss 15 to 20 per cent of school across key stage four. Their chances of obtaining the English Baccalaureate are ten times higher.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels