Southampton City Council has said it is 'everyone's responsibility' to improve school attendance after absences in the city rose above the national average. 

Data from the Department for Education shows that 5.31 per cent of secondary school pupils in Southampton were away in the week commencing February 5. 

This was more than two per cent higher than the national average which stood at 3.04 per cent for that week. 

Since the academic year began last September, there has been a national absence rate of seven per cent across all state-funded schools in England with 2.2 per cent having not been authorised.

But now, Southampton City Council has said improving attendance is "critical" adding that it is "everyone's responsibility". 

A spokesperson said: “Improving and promoting school attendance is everyone's responsibility and in Southampton confronting school absence is being raised across all agencies and is becoming a shared responsibility.

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“Excellent school attendance is a critical factor in ensuring improved attainment and future life outcomes.

“It is central to social inclusion and has a major impact on a child’s future life opportunities.

“All children and young people in Southampton should be receiving their full entitlement to education so that they are equipped to fulfil their potential and make good choices as young adults and citizens; for themselves and their communities.”

Attendance figures are submitted by schools on a daily basis – including the attendance codes for each pupil on their registers during the morning and afternoon sessions.

Southampton City Council adheres to the current Department for Education Guidance: ‘Working Together to Improve School Attendance.’

The guidelines state: “Parents should plan their holidays around school breaks and avoid seeking permission from schools to take their children out of school during term time unless it is absolutely unavoidable.

“Only exceptional circumstances warrant a leave of absence.

“Schools will consider each application individually taking into account the specific facts and circumstances and relevant background context behind the request.”

An unauthorised absence is when a pupil does not attend without prior authorisation from the school and usually results in children being taken out of school for long periods during term time.