ASCL response to government’s attendance drive

Pepe Di’Iasio, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to the Department for Education’s launch of a new daily data tool as part of a “world leading attendance drive”.
“It is far too early for the government to be patting itself on the back about how it is tackling the problem of pupil absence. The latest government data shows that 21.2% of pupils were persistently absent in the 2022/23 academic year. This compares to 10.9% in 2018/19 before the Covid pandemic.

“The launch of a daily data tool to identify absence trends is useful. But data tools and attendance hubs will not solve the underlying problems which are driving these very high levels of persistent absence. This includes factors such as poor mental health, unmet special educational needs, and families who are struggling to cope, and these issues are just not being adequately addressed by the government in terms of investment in local support services as well as schools.

“The government focuses far too much on the symptoms rather than the causes of pupil absence.”