As pupils return to school following the festive break, the Department for Education has announced that it is working to drive up attendance and persistent absence in schools across the country.
Thanks to a major expansion of the attendance hubs programme, more than one million children and young people are being supported into regularly attending education. This support will be tailored to families’ circumstances and will come through 18 further attendance hubs across six regions of England, bringing the overall figure to 32 hubs that support nearly 2,000 schools.
Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education, said:
“The benefits of our success in raising education standards can only be when all children are in school.
“Tackling attendance is my number one priority. We want all our children to have the best start in life because we know that attending school is vital to a child’s wellbeing, development, and attainment as well as impact future career success.
“I am hugely grateful to all our brilliant teachers, heads, and everyone else who’s worked with us to make the progress we’ve already made with 380,000 fewer children persistently absent.”
The hubs come with £15 million of government backing that will see practical ideas being shared among primary, secondary, alternative provision and special schools, as well as initiatives to help engage pupils further. Children’s charity Barnardo’s is also running a pilot programme in Middlesbrough, Doncaster, Knowsley, Salford, and Stoke-on-Trent, which will run alongside the hub programme’s work with trained attendance mentors in 10 regions from September this year.
Mentors will support children and young people who are persistently absent with intensive one-to-one support to establish the root causes of absence. This has the potential to bring on further aid, intensive work with teachers, as well as bridge-building between schools and families if needed.
Children’s Commissioner Rachel De Souza also commented:
“As Children’s Commissioner, I have made school attendance one of my top priorities because children tell me how much they value their education and want to be in school. Every day counts: when children miss school, it’s not just about missing lessons, it’s also about losing valuable moments spent with their friends and teachers.
“I very much welcome the government’s announcements today which include the recommendations made last year in my report on school attendance.
“I am hopeful that these measures will arm local authorities and schools with real-time information about school absence rates and provide vital support for children who face barriers to attending school.”
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