As schools tackle the issue of increasing absences, parents are becoming more cautious about sending their children to school with minor illnesses such as a cough or cold as a direct result of the public health messaging during the pandemic.
The most recent data from the Department for Education (DfE) revealed that the absences in the spring term of this year were 50% higher than before the pandemic, and in 2021-222, more than one in five of secondary pupils were “persistently absent” for missing 10% or more of sessions.
The Local Government Association (LGA) provided evidence for the cuts in pastoral support across England, stating that there are “increasing numbers of children in the mainstream school system with additional needs that can cause barriers to school attendance, including trauma, deprivation and poverty.”
The Department for Education have announced plans to help reduce the number of absences, including local authorities making greater use of legal powers to enforce attendance, however local councils are concerned that they do not have the capacity and resources within their school attendance teams to achieve the new goals, given the increasing number of schools they will be working with. For example, Essex council have said that the DfE’s plans would require it to have 40 attendance officers, compared with the eight it can afford to employ.