§ Mrs. Laing
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research her Department has(a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the number of half days missed through authorised absence in (i) primary schools and (ii) secondary schools; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Ivan Lewis
[holding answer 10 April 2002]: The Department's analytical section provides analysis of all absence data collected by the Department. A statistical bulletin was published in December 2001 and is available on the DfES website. Authorised absence accounts for nearly 90 per cent. of all school time missed and therefore can be as much a barrier to improving school standards as unauthorised absence.
In addition, the Department has commissioned a research project on the causes of absence from school. This project will interview children, parents and teachers about the cause of absence and will report in the autumn.