Parents in England no longer see daily school attendance as vital

"Before Covid, I was all about getting the kids into school. Education was a major thing. After Covid, I'm not going to lie to you, my take on attendance now is like I don't really care anymore. Life's too short."

Our research, conducted by Public First and in partnership with Impetus and School-Home Support finds that the ‘attendance gap’ is widening, with disadvantaged pupils more likely to be absent
In 2022-2023, 37.9% of disadvantaged pupils were persistently absent, compared to 16.7% for non-disadvantaged peers.

Persistent absence among non-disadvantaged pupils decreased by 0.8 percentage points (from 17.5% in 2021-2022), while it worsened for disadvantaged pupils by 0.5 percentage points (from 37.2% in 2021-2022).

This is problematic because poor school attendance leads to lower academic achievements at both Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4. Missing out on school also means missing out on opportunities for support: Regular school attendance provides broader social, health, and civic benefits, with school-based interventions aiding struggling students.

Key Recomendations

  1. We need a seismic shift in our approach to education to meet this significant challenge. The breakdown in relationships between schools and parents and the severity of the mental health crisis affecting young people, is having profound implications for their attendance and overall well-being. This crisis demands immediate attention and action.
  2. The impact on the education and well-being of all children, regardless of their background is important, but is particularly concerning and disproportionately affecting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with SEND further widening the disadvantage gap.
  3. We need to move away from blanket sanctions and to more nuanced support to families that can only come through joined-up working: Parents across the spectrum stress the importance of schools being more understanding of family challenges, including issues related to parental mental health, family illness, bereavement, or medical appointments.
  4. We are calling for better joined-up working and signposting to para-educational agencies including those in mental health would ensure that those best placed to offer support are available to young people.

Look out for further coverage on this vital issue throughout the day and read about our work in The i, The Guardian, LBC and more.

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