The number of Children Missing School in England is a National Crisis – what can be done to tackle this crisis?

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Figures for the 2022-23 academic year show the number of Children missing school in England has increased significantly since COVID-19, with an overall absence rate of 7.6%, up from around 4-5% pre-pandemic. Alarmingly, figures also show 22.3% of pupils were "persistently absent", which is defined as missing 10% or more of their lessons during the 2022-23 academic year.

In their recent report: Persistent absence and Support for Disadvantaged Pupils, The Commons Education Select Committee, made a series of national recommendations on how best to tackle the pupil absence in school crisis including:

  • Expanding a pilot scheme for attendance mentors, who help families get children to school
  • Allowing children with serious mental-health problems to miss school without it being recorded as unauthorised absence
  • Ending the "postcode lottery" of fines for parents for unauthorised absences
  • A review of whether more children should have free school meals
  • Clear advice for parents on when sick children need to stay home
  • Accelerating plans to improve support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities

Now the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) in partnership with The Difference and funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) aims to carry out research on individual school approaches to reducing absence and exclusions.

The study aims to gain insights into what schools are doing in this area and then potentially identify the impact of different approaches. The study will start with a scoping stage comprising expert interviews, school case studies and a national survey of secondary schools. If this stage is successful in identifying distinct approaches, the research team plans to design an impact evaluation using data from the scoping stage.

Secondary School Leaders – The NFER needs you!!

Please help them with this report by sharing the approaches that your school takes to reducing absence and exclusions. The survey is open to all publicly-funded mainstream secondary schools in England and all schools taking part in the survey will receive a tailored report placing their responses in the context of the overall national picture.

Complete the survey here

The survey closes on 23rd October so you don’t have long!

Read more information about this research project on the NFER website here.



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