School absence figures in England are improving despite the fact that truants skipped 3.7 million school days last year, according to Department for Education (DfE) figures.
Government data shows that on any given day during the autumn term last year there were 55,600 pupils skipping lessons without authorisation.
However, while this figure may appear high, people in education jobs have learned that there has actually been a slight fall in the number of unauthorised absences.
In 2010 the truancy rate stood at one per cent, but last year this was reduced fractionally to 0.9 per cent.
Overall, the number of pupils missing days at both primary and secondary schools in England fell markedly last year, from 6.1 per cent in 2010 to 4.7 per cent in 2011.
The figures suggest that the government's drive to improve attendance is working, with a significant fall in the number of sick days recorded last year.
While illness remains the main reason behind days off school - accounting for 58 per cent of pupil absence – between autumn 2010 and autumn 2011 the number of days missed because of sickness fell by 3.8 million, from 15.2 million to 11.4 million.
Commenting on the figures, schools minister Nick Gibb said that it was good news that absence rates were falling, but that more work needed to be done to tackle the problem as it can have serious effects on academic performance.
"Such absence is still a problem, but it is clear that more head teachers are refusing simply to wave through parents' requests to take their children out of school for term-time holidays," he said.
"Increasingly parents understand the damage that can be caused to a child's education from missing even a day or two of school."
The figures were compiled from data received during the DfE's spring 2012 school census and refer to absence statistics from the 2011 autumn term.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels