The Secretary of State for Education announced on Tuesday 12 July his intention to change the definition of 'persistent absence' to deal with the reality of pupil absenteeism in schools and its impact on their learning.

The Department for Education is reducing the threshold at which a pupil is defined as 'persistently absent' from the current 20 per cent, down to 15 per cent. Whilst the best schools intervene early when a child stops attending, we are concerned that some schools only take action to intervene when pupils near the persistently absent threshold, but nearing 20 per cent is too late. Lowering the threshold will ensure that schools take action sooner to deal with absence.

The new threshold will be published in statistical releases, the Performance Tables and RAISE Online from October 2011 onwards - starting with the combined autumn 2010 and spring 2011 terms data - and we will continue to publish the old threshold alongside it.

Cascade to

School attendance leaders.