THE rate of unauthorised absences in lessons in schools across Warrington has risen ‘significantly’. 

Since the pandemic, The Association for School and College Leaders has said attendance is ‘one of the biggest challenges’ schools must face, with several complex factors contributing to the problem. 

Department for Education figures show 62,000 of 3.4million school sessions were missed without permission by pupils in Warrington. 

It meant children in the area had an unauthorised absence rate of 1.8 per cent. 

Children are expected to attend both morning and afternoon sessions during the school day. 

In the 2018-19 spring term, the unauthorised absence rate was one per cent, meaning it has increased by 80 per cent during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Meanwhile nationally, 2.3 per cent of pupils missed school without permission in the spring, almost double the 1.2 per cent who were absent from lessons in 2018-19. 

Every area in the country has seen the rate of unauthorised absences rise by more than 30 per cent since 2018-19. 

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the ASCL, said mental health issues, a lack of support for children with SEND and the cost-of-living-crisis are all factors of the rise in school absences. 

"It will take concerted government action to address these issues, all of which are linked to high levels of pupil absence, and ensure all children are getting the support they need at the right time,” she said. 

In Warrington, 200,000 school sessions were missed in the latest spring term. 

A Department for Education spokesman said: "The vast majority of children are in school and learning, and we are taking action to increase attendance because it is vital for a child’s education, wellbeing and future life chances. 

"We have expanded our attendance hubs, which will support over 400,000 pupils across 14 hubs and provided a toolkit for schools about communicating with parents on this issue. 

"Our mentoring programme, delivered by Barnardo’s, sees trained mentors work directly with 1,665 persistently and severely absent children and their families to understand and overcome the barriers to attendance and support them back into school."