One in 10 pupil absences in NI primaries due to unauthorised holiday

A tenth of pupil absences in primary schools across Northern Ireland can be explained by unauthorised family holidays – and the number is rising

The Department of Education (DE) has found that one in 10 pupil absences from primary schools in Northern Ireland were due to family holidays, according to the BBC.

The DE analyses and releases details about school absences every year. They are reported in half-day sessions and noted as either authorised or unauthorised.

Needless to say, the one in 10 family holiday absences are unauthorised. However, in Northern Ireland, there are no fines for this.

Fines are reserved for families or guardians who have allowed their child to miss school over a prolonged period of time. The DE can demand up to £1,000.

Attendance falling below 85% for any pupil can lead to families or guardians being referred to the Education Welfare Service.

Five years ago, the proportion of absences taken for family holidays was just 7.5%.

Just over five per cent of half days were missed in NI primary schools in 2017-18. That’s a rise of around 0.5% on the previous year.

About 15% of absences were left unexplained.

Schools in Northern Ireland had higher rates of unauthorised absence than those in England and Wales in 2017-18. The reasons for the rise are unclear.

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