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Attendance at grant-aided primary, post-primary and special schools 2011/12: Summary statistics

Key points
Thursday, 31 January 2013

Absence rates

  • While there does not tend to be large variation in absence levels year on year, overall absence was slightly lower in all sectors in 2011/12 than in any of the previous four years.
  • In primary schools in 2011/12, 4.8% of all half days were missed due to absence, comprising 3.4% authorised and 1.3% unauthorised absence. This represents a decrease on 2010/11, when overall absence accounted for 5.1% of the total half days (3.7% authorised and 1.4% unauthorised).
  • In post-primary schools in 2011/12, 7.0% of all half days were missed due to absence, 4.4% was authorised absence and 2.6% was unauthorised absence. In 2010/11, overall absence represented 7.4% of the total half days, 4.6% authorised and 2.8% unauthorised.
  • In special schools, 9.8% of all half days were missed due to absence in 2011/12, comprising 6.5% authorised and 3.3% unauthorised absence. These figures show a decrease in overall and authorised absence since 2010/11, when levels were 10.2% and 7.3% respectively and a slight increase in unauthorised absence (3.0% in 2010/11).

Reasons for absence

  • The most common reason for absence in all schools was illness, which is an authorised absence. Illness accounted for 61.9% of all absent half days in primary schools, 49.9% in post-primary schools and 47.6% in special schools. This equates to 3.0%, 3.5% and 4.7% of the total half days respectively.

Comparisons with England, Scotland and Wales

  • Data for Scotland for 2011/12 is not available since it is now produced on a biennial basis. Of the other regions, the highest overall absence rates were recorded in Wales – 6.2% of the total half days in primary schools and 7.8% in post-primary schools. This compares with 4.8% and 7.0% respectively in Northern Ireland. However, unauthorised absence was notably higher in NI schools than in any other region, at 1.3% of the total half days in primary and 2.6% in post-primary.

The full report can be accessed on the DE website

Notes to editors:

The statistics in this release have been derived from the annual School Census. More information about the collection of school attendance data can be found on the Department's website

The 2011/12 figures in this statistical release are based on school census information as at 5th October 2012. They may be subject to minor revision and these will be notified in accordance with our revisions policy. This can be accessed at DE Statement on Statistical Revisions Doc.

The data is produced at aggregate level only therefore individual pupils cannot be identified. More information on confidentiality can be found in the DE Confidentiality and Access Statement.doc

Requests for further information should be addressed to:

Mrs Oonagh Neenan
Statistics and Research Branch
Department of Education
Rathgael House
Balloo Road
Co. Down
BT19 7PR

Telephone: 028 9127 9438

Fax: 028 9127 9594


Special analyses of the attendance information can be undertaken on request.

DE Statistical Releases can be accessed on the DE website under the Statistics and Research section.

If you have any comments or suggestions in relation to attendance data or this release, please let us know via the short questionnaire

Media enquiries to the Department of Education’s Communications Team on Tel: 028 9127 9701. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 99 715 440, and your call will be returned.