Attendance has been high on the agenda within education this week, though we could argue it has been since the pandemic saw a series of enforced closures across the education system. One report from Action for Children highlights the huge increase in the number of parents seeking advice on supporting their child with accessing school. This was followed by a report from the Children’s Commissioner, ‘Missing Children, Missing Grades’, for attendance data to be shared more widely within the system.
There are a number of areas to explore within the area of attendance. It appears from the Action for Children report that young people found that learning at home, in an environment that was adaptable to their needs and one in which they could still access a level of learning that they previously could only access in the school environment, was preferable. In fact, the link between school and achievement for some young people was broken by the enforced closures.
The ‘Missing Children, Missing Grades’ report finds that:
- School absence has become endemic in Key Stage 4. Over the last couple of years, over a third of all pupils in Key Stage 4 were either persistently or severely absent for at least one year.
- While 78% of all children who were rarely absent in both years at KS 4 passed at least 5 GCSEs including English and maths, only 36% of children who were persistently absent in both years and just 5% of children who were severely absent in both years reached this same standard.
- More than half (54%) of pupils who were persistently absent in Year 10 and then rarely absent in Year 11 passed at least 5 GCSEs including English and maths, compared to 36% of pupils who were persistently absent in both years.
The link between attendance and grades, though compelling, hides a multitude of missed opportunities to support young people from their entry into secondary settings. Young people who have had their needs met in the familiar, single teacher context at primary school, can find secondary schools a confusing and difficult place, with new subjects revealing potential new support needs; this can present as behaviour that challenges. Much is being said about the impact however finding the cause and therefore a solution appears to be a bigger challenge.
If you are a school making in roads in this area for all pupils including those with SEND, do get in touch as we would love to host real examples of practices making an impact in this area at email@example.com.