New measures announced to reduce pupil absence

The government has announced that new expert attendance advisers with decades of first-hand experience are to begin work to reduce pupil absence.

As part of the Education Secretary’s commitment to make school attendance his top priority, the advisers will work with local authorities and multi-academy trusts who have been identified as having potential to benefit from the support and who want to use the expertise of the advisers to help re-engage persistently absent pupils.

The attendance advisors will draw on their expertise as former head teachers and local authority leaders, as well as best practice from across the sector, to support local authorities and school trusts with approaches tailored to their specific needs. They might advise how data and partnership working can be improved across local areas to identify and support children at risk of persistent absence, or how local authorities can make sure all parts of their services from social workers to housing officers are focused on breaking down barriers to attendance.

The Department for Education has also identified schools with some of the greatest decreases in absence rates over a five-year period prior to the pandemic, and that have maintained their excellent approach. They will be sharing their approach with other schools in a variety of ways over the coming weeks and months, to help reduce high absence rates.

Schools Minister Robin Walker said: “It has been fantastic to see how through a combination of data, proactivity and a focus on children’s wellbeing, a school like the London Academy has driven up attendance and reduced persistent absence. Every lesson that we can prevent a child from missing is another building block to their life chances, development and well-being.

“My department is channelling all its efforts to provide support and guidance to help schools, local authorities and multi-academy trusts take action to increase attendance, and I ask that everyone working with children does everything in their power to help break down any barriers to them attending school. I recognise that covid is still with us and causing some unavoidable absence – but this is all the more reason that we must all take action to address every avoidable reason for a child not being in school.”

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