GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

New research links socioeconomic inequalities to school absenteeism

Research carried out by the University of Strathclyde in partnership with GTC Scotland and Poverty Alliance Scotland, shows that socioeconomic status is a strong predictor of school absenteeism, supporting previous studies on the issue.

"Socioeconomic Inequalities in School Attendance in Scotland: Research Brief" found that all dimensions of socioeconomic background were uniquely linked to overall absenteeism.

The unique study reflects that different dimensions of socioeconomic status are independently associated with absenteeism. It also indicates that to fully understand the links between socioeconomic background and absenteeism, research must account for multiple dimensions of each.

Key findings

The results show that pupils from more deprived areas, living in socially rented housing, coming from households with lower levels of parental education and social class, and those registered for free school meals were more frequently absent from school than their peers from more advantaged backgrounds.

Pupils from socially rented households, and households with no qualifications are the most likely to be absent from school.

When looking at specific forms of absenteeism, the analysis revealed that there were socioeconomic inequalities related to truancy, sickness and temporary exclusion but not in relation to absences due to family holidays.

Living in socially rented housing, and parental education had the most pervasive effect on all forms of absenteeism.

In addition, the research showed that girls were more frequently absent than boys, and that those in urban areas had higher levels of overall absenteeism than those living in rural areas. The analysis did not find that socioeconomic differences in school absenteeism were more or less pronounced between girls and boys or people living in urban or rural areas.