THE Department for Education has announced new measures to improve school attendance and tackle persistent absence from school, including mentoring and an expansion of Attendance Hubs.

Commenting on the measures, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Good attendance in schools is vitally important for children and young people’s education, and our members work closely with parents to minimise absences. The reasons for absences can be complicated and arise from outside circumstances such as poverty, SEND and mental health issues as well as a lack of support services for families outside of schools.

“The proposed extension of the Attendance Hubs programme, like the behaviour hubs and Mental Health Support Teams, is rolling out too little too late for many children and young people. The programme supports only 10 per cent of schools – nowhere near enough to tackle the extent of the problems. Similarly, the proposed extension of the attendance mentoring scheme, piloted in a mere five areas, will not begin for another nine months. Young people and schools need support now.

“Effective change requires funding pastoral teams to work with parents and students to address the underlying issues for unauthorised absences. It also means speeding up the referral process for SEND assessment, diagnosis and support or for increasing CAMHS ( Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) capacity. These are the issues schools regularly tell us are affecting student attendance. Yet the government’s proposals fail to provide the means to address them.

“For many young people the overloaded curriculum is not fit for purpose and the exam factories culture in schools is also driving young people out of education rather than fostering a love of learning. Government must face up to these challenges to ensure children and young people get the education they deserve in a well-funded and supported environment.”

* Read the Department for Education announcement here.

* Source: National Education Union