Schools: Absenteeism

Department for Education written question – answered am ar 22 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will issue guidance to schools not to include authorised medical absences related to diagnosed medical conditions in their calculations measuring persistent absence.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Minister of State (Education)

Ensuring that children are in school is a top priority for the government.

The department promotes a ‘support first’ approach to school attendance and recognises that some pupils face greater barriers to attendance than their peers. These pupils can include pupils who suffer from long term medical conditions. Their right to an education is the same as any other pupil and therefore the attendance ambition for these pupils should be the same as they are for any other pupil.

The department’s guidance, titled ‘Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions’, makes clear that schools should not penalise pupils for their attendance record if their absences are related to physical or mental health conditions. The guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/803956/supporting-pupils-at-school-with-medical-conditions.pdf.

In addition, the department’s guidance, titled ‘Working together to improve school attendance’ emphasises that schools and local authorities should be working with the child and their family to remove any barriers to attendance by building strong and trusting relationships and working together to put the right support in place. This includes having sensitive conversations and developing good support for pupils with physical and mental health conditions and establishing strategies for removing in-school barriers to attendance. More information can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/63049617e90e0729e63d3953/Working_together_to_improve_school_attendance.pdf.

To help implement the ‘support first’ approach, schools should record their attendance data accurately. The department has a daily data scheme to understand the drivers for absence, including those related to illness. Participation in the daily data scheme will become mandatory for all state-funded schools from September 2024.

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