School absence levels in Hampshire have fallen over the last year and remain slightly below the national average according to new data.

But the 6.4 per cent is still higher than it was pre-pandemic, when rates were consistently below five per cent.

National Statistics (NS) data for the Autumn term 2023/24 show that absenteeism fell from 7.5 to 6.7 per cent in England over a 12-month period.

Hampshire County Council’s inclusion support service manager, Jon Willcocks, updated the authority’s Education Advisory Panel on June 19 about absenteeism levels.

Members that HCC recorded seven per cent absenteeism in primary, secondary and special needs schools combined in 2022/23. That figure has now dropped to 6.4 per cent according to NS data, in-line with the national trend.

Mr Willcocks indicated that Hampshire schools are working “very hard” to improve attendance.

Mr Willcocks said: “Headteachers are really mindful and really aware of the pressures around attendance. Our schools are thoughtful, responsive and working very hard to improve attendance in young people.

“We are strengthening the current system, and we have to make sure that we are actually doing everything we can, collectively as a team, to make sure we work very hard to make attendance a key priority. Every day missed is a learning opportunity gone.”

In regards to ‘persistent absentees’, Mr Willcocks said HCC is “focused” on that area since it is higher than the overall absenteeism, despite a reduction.

Almost 18.5 percent of pupils were persistently absent in 22/23, compared with 17.7 percent in 23/24 and 19.4 percent nationally.

Homeschooling is also increasing across and in Hampshire. Department for Education data shows the number of school-age children being home-educated increased from under 81,000 in autumn 2022 to 92,000 the next year.