New Welsh Government data has revealed that absenteeism is increasing in Wales with the Education Minister saying "too many young people are missing out on school time".
Education Minister Jeremy Miles introduced new guidance to help schools work with families and relevant agencies to make sure learners attend their place of study.
New figures released in September suggest that school attendance rates in Wales have not improved since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Around 16.3% of pupils aged 11-15 fell into the category of being consistently absent from school in 2022 to 2023.
The figure was more than double, at 35.7%, for pupils who are eligible for free school meals.
Jeremy Miles said: “Since the pandemic, too many young people are missing out on invaluable school time.
"We can be in no doubt that our education system is still very much recovering from the impact of the pandemic.
"Schools have been working hard to support learners back into to the classroom, but this is a crisis which needs a national approach. It is my number one priority."
The Welsh Government will now change the statistical definition of persistent absence from missing 20% of sessions to 10% of sessions.
One school that has taken action to improve attendance is Pontypridd High School.
Staff analysed data and found that learners eligible for free school meals had significantly worse attendance, as well as learners who did not engage well with schoolwork during lockdown.
The school has provided extra support for pupils with significant attendance concerns including youth workers, counsellors and introduced a school EBSA room (Emotionally based school avoidance).
The guidance also sets out the Welsh Government’s position on fines, which should only be used as a last resort after all other options have been exhausted.
Jeremy Miles added: "The new guidance will help schools in tackling this national issue.
"Making sure children are back in the classroom is our number one priority. By working together we will ensure that all children and young people are given the best possible start in life and are supported to reach their potential.”
Commenting on the data released by the Welsh Government, Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Minister Laura Anne Jones MS, said: "Absenteeism is becoming a big problem in Wales and the Labour Government must illustrate comprehensive plans to address the issue.
"With an undertrained, ill equipped, underfunded and understaffed workforce in an environment where physical and verbal violence is rife, there is little wonder to why absenteeism has grown in our schools.
“Students with high absence rates are at a significant disadvantage by missing out on key learning opportunities and poor attendance can lead to gaps in pupil’s knowledge."
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