ASCL comment on rise in severe absence in schools

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to new data from the Department for Education, which shows that more than 150,000 pupils were severely absent from school in the 2022/23 summer term.
All young people have the right to an education and the fact that so many are missing more than half their time in school should be cause for major concern. Advertising slogans and attendance hubs are just not going to make a tangible difference to pupils who are missing days or weeks of school at a time. We have to be far more ambitious. 

“We need greater mental health support for children who are suffering from anxiety and depression. Investment in attendance support services is required to help identify the issues preventing children from regularly attending school, and allow work to be done alongside families to find solutions. There needs to be a network of support available to allow all pupils to feel able to attend school regularly, and this can only be achieved if public services are funded appropriately. There’s no getting away from the fact that this costs money, but the Prime Minister himself has recognised the education is key to economic growth. If absence rates remain at these levels then the future prospects of thousands of young people are going to be jeopardised. They quite simply deserve better.