Around 65,000 more children were in classes every day during the autumn term last year compared to the same point in 2012.
Provisional figures showed that, in all, 4.3 per cent of lesson time was lost between September and December 2013 – the equivalent of 258,700 pupils missing school every day.
But it was down from 5.2 per cent – 323,600 pupils – in 2012, making it the lowest figure since termly absence data was first collected in 2006.
Data released by the Department for Education showed that the overall proportion of days missed due to family holidays also dropped – from 0.5 to 0.4 per cent.
Under new guidance issued to schools across England, heads are prevented from giving parents up to 10 days discretionary leave during term time, apart from 'exceptional circumstances' such as family bereavement.
The move was designed to keep children in school and drive up overall attendance rates.
Ministers have also introduced tougher fines for truancy, with parents being forced to pay £60 for allowing their children to skip school, up from £50. Late payments have escalated from £100 to £120.
"By increasing fines and encouraging schools to address the problem earlier, huge progress is being made. These figures suggest the number of children on course to be persistently absent has fallen by 44 per cent since 2010."
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