New figures have revealed an alarming increase in children as young as five playing truant from school.
More than 63,00 primary and secondary school children were absent from school on typical days in the autumn and spring terms of 2009/10. More than 4,000 of these were five-year-olds.
The findings reveal that primary school students missed 0.68 per cent of half days, up from 0.65 per cent for the same terms in 2008/09, and 0.52 per cent three years ago in 2006/07.
The figures add up to 22,742 primary aged youngsters missing lessons on a typical school day in 2009/10 compared to 21,751 in 2008/9 and 17,828 in 2006/7.
The figures suggest that even more parents are taking children out of school during term time to enjoy cheaper family holidays.
Statistics already show around 3.9 million days in the autumn and spring term 2009/10 were missed due to family get-aways, with one in four such breaks not being approved by the child's school.
Nick Gibb, the School's Minister, said absenteeism in schools is still too high, despite the report finding a drop overall.
He said: 'It is crucial that children are not missing out on valuable lessons that could leave them vulnerable to falling behind.'
Overall truancy levels in primary and secondary schools has fallen slightly to 1.01 per cent of half days missed, from 1.03 per cent for the same two terms the year before.
What do you think about this story?
Do you take your children out of school in term time for holidays?
Are you pretty relaxed about the occasional 'day off'?
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