MORE than a quarter of secondary school pupils and one in six primary-age children in Herefordshire are “persistently absent” from school – around twice the pre-Covid rate.

Data on persistent absences, when pupils miss more than one day in ten in a term, is collected nationally by the Department for Education.

This shows that in Herefordshire, for the previous school year’s autumn and spring terms taken together, 2,506 out of 9,611 state secondary pupils, or 26.1 per cent, were persistently absent.

The figure for state primaries in the county was 1,932 pupils persistently absent out of a total of 11,616, a rate of 16.6 per cent.

As our graph shows, these figures jumped sharply in the 2021-22 school year in the wake of Covid-19 when pupils were obliged to stay at home, but have dropped only slightly since.

The DfE figures show Herefordshire is by no means unusual in this, with 28.3 per cent of secondary school pupils and 17.2 per cent of primary pupils across England missing more than one day in ten across the same period.

The annual report by chief inspector for schools Sir Martyn Oliver, published last month, said children’s potential futures “are being limited by too many not attending school often enough”.

“Overall absence and persistent and severe absences are all too high,” he wrote.

“The reasons are complex, and schools are working hard with children and families to overcome the obstacles.”