Early intervention key to improving school attendance

Margaret Mulholland, SEND and Inclusion Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to a report from Centre for Mental Health and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, which explores the mental health barriers to school attendance.
“Persistent absence in English schools has doubled since before the pandemic, and this report makes clear that attempts to tackle this have failed to address many of the underlying causes. Fixing the special needs system and ensuring mental health provision is widely available must be prioritised in order to improve school attendance. If all pupils have access to appropriate support at the point they need it, this should hugely reduce the numbers regularly missing out on vital parts of their education.
“Without the resources to put this support in place, schools face an uphill struggle to tackle the attendance crisis on their own. The government needs to do more to support schools, as tinkering with the level of fines or the number of attendance hubs will not make a tangible difference.”