Page 6 of 6              PA0190


Written evidence submitted by the Association of Education Welfare Management

Our First concern- Lack of academic research into the issues of persistent absence, causation, the strategies that have an impact on improving attendance across a variety of issues.

Housing conditions

Lack of school places within reasonable distance of their home

Temporary housing other agencies meeting their own key indicators rather than engaging in joined up working and looking at all the needs of the family.  Placing families across LA boundaries and not looking at school places/availability.   Families with no recourse to public funds being housed in temporary accommodation by the Home Office without consideration for the LA education provision or the needs of the children within the family.

Low attendance blamed for poor attainment but is this only the symptom?  Is it really SEN?   Lack of school resources to investigate/support also lack of Educational Psychology support to determine SEN.  Children with emotional needs and unidentified SEN are placed in schools with no TA support and therefore these pupils struggle from day one. 

Parental experiences with education and their own difficulties with mental health can become a barrier to support for pupils

Parental addictions can also prevent engagement with education and create poor attendance for their children

Lack of parental support for homework/reading/engagement in education

Numerous school moves, for whatever reason, affects pupil engagement and can be a concern for safeguarding of the child 

Pupils feeling they do not belong or are not wanted by schools (especially after exclusion)

In numerous cases parental pressure on GPs has resulted in GPs signing pupils off sick without seeing them in person. Reduction of health services for schools (school nursing service and health visitors) has meant that schools have struggled to support students with minor health issues that turn into major issues without appropriate support.

The post of school medical officer no longer exists and this puts extra pressure on GPs to carry out this role, which they do not have time to do.

In every LA area there are some pupils that are withdrawn from school under the EHE regulations to home school, by ill-informed parents, then they do not provide suitable education for their children and when they are returned to school either voluntarily or via a School Attendance Order, the pupil has significant gaps in learning.

Looked after children can be traumatised by their experiences and numerous moves to try and support them can have a detrimental effect on their education

EAL and the additional communication difficulties caused by this.   This presents a resource challenge to schools some of whom find it hard to meet.

Lack of understanding of admission processes and those school processes used to support pupils


Lack of knowledge of the legal requirement to be in education

Cultural habits still practiced from their home nation (eg compulsory education not starting until 7yo in some Eastern European countries).

Misconceptions of our national curriculum concerning religion/sex education

Lengthy trips to the family’s original home nation

holidays in term time and the need for affordable family holidays the FPN fined is far lower than the saving gained by taking a pupil out in term time.   The FPN is no longer a deterrent. 

THERE IS A NEED FOR A NATIONAL CODE OF CONDUCT FOR PENALTY NOTICES to readdress the postcode lottery. This needs to be issued in conjunction with guidance for Headteachers to implement the code consistently. The recent PRAMB 2021-22 data shows the use of penalty notices varied greatly by local authority.  3 local authorities issued no penalty notices. 9 others issued less than 100. 6 local authorities issued more than 5,000. 27 out of 155 local authorities (17%) accounted for over 50% of all penalty notices.

SEN: Length of time required to collect evidence to ask for an assessment for SEN and the cost to schools of this carrying out

Waiting time to seek support from Educational Psychologist

Parental refusal to send a pupil to school whilst assessments are undertaken due to the lack of support available.

Schools struggle in managing the needs of pupils with difficulties who are undergoing assessment, due to the lack of suitable funding.  The appropriate support is not being provided early enough to ensure consistent engagement with education

Parents moving pupils with special education needs to try to access better support for their child.  However, this is not helpful due to how the code regarding SEN support is written. In practice at each move the evidence gathering process starts afresh.

Mental Health - lack of support services and the length of the waiting list to receive any support identified. The inability of pupils to get away from bullying via social media and peer pressure to act an look in a certain way is a significant concern.  Schools should be actively supported to ensure mobile phones are not seen during the school day.

Difficulty in accessing GP’s face to face when the need arises

Increasing incidences of Emotionally Based School Avoidance/Anxiety and the increasing complexity and occurrences of poor mental health amongst children and families.


Research investigating the rates of EBSA within children and young people, estimate a range between 1 and 5% of school populations (Egger et al., 2003, Pellegrini, 2007, Elliott & Place, 2019). For example, using a large sample of 5,465, 11–15-year olds, Havik et al (2015) found that one child in each class, approximately 4% of the sample, reported being absent due to school refusal behaviour. However, some participants did not provide answers, and therefore, Havik et al. (2015) highlights how 4% may represent an underestimate.  This research was undertaken prior to Covid / Strep A, therefore the issue has possibly been compounded further.


·         Lack of specialist provision for children with moderate to severe Social, Emotional and Mental Health Issues, especially for girls and LGBTQI children, especially in relation to children where s19 threshold is passed

·        The impact of COVID-19, whilst significant, disguises/hides the fact that increases in absence and PA began in 2014., therefore there are more underlying issues to think about / research

Feeling of rejection

Lack of assessment for SEN

Limited curriculum

Peer pressure

Influence of gangs/county lines

The AP being a long way from home

Lack of good APs

Joined up thinking across all support services is required. Poor school attendance is often what is noticed and can be a symptom of further safeguarding concerns this means it is imperative that the profile of Educational Neglect needs to be raised and seen as a sole trigger to support either from Early Help or Social Services.

Schools/LAs being rewarded for their inclusivity – Ofsted inspections should recognise this as a positive outcome during the inspection process.

All schools should have designated non-teaching staff to support improving attendance and to work with pupils and families to enable students to engage in education.  This role should have attendance as the core part of their job description and not as addition to already many other responsibilities

Schools must be required to work in partnership with all support services, and those partners should have an equal requirement to work with schools.  Silo working should become a thing of the past.

Education to become a statutory partner within LA Safeguarding Children Partnerships, ensuring education specific issues which increase vulnerability i.e. attendance, exclusions etc are part of the focus of the partnership.

The AEWM fully supports the principles in the reforms to improve attendance.  We do have concerns about the postcode of implementation of such, due to lack of ring-fenced funding.  Money has been given to LAs via Early Help but this service is provided in many different ways in Local Authorities.  Funding is results generated and little consideration is given to school attendance due to the lack of training and knowledge of workers.  We would support the raising the profile of the definition of educational neglect with social workers, MASH workers and Early Help workers embedded in appropriate training

The only way to ensure an appropriate roll out of the reforms across all Local Authorities, supporting best outcomes for vulnerable pupils is to include the delivery of the reforms and their outcomes via the inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS).  This should review these reforms, to include their outcomes and improvement of overall attendance .

If fully implemented the reforms should have a significant impact on improving attendance,

However, the burdens paper on these reforms produced by the DfE states there should be an LA attendance advisor for each 5,800 pupils and now includes pupils in private education sector, which has not been the case in the past.  Since 2009 the skill set to advise schools on improving attendance has been lost due to the reduction in services.  Our Association would support a generic requirement for training of officers with national occupational standards

Referrals for support:  We are concerned that many Early Help teams are set up in LAs with a high threshold under social care (almost as a family support service) and education is currently not a major concern addressed in their thresholds

There is a need for a national definition of Educational Neglect and this to be rolled out along side these reforms and training for all School, Children’s services, health  and LA Education department staff to ensure the same thresholds and levels are being acknowledged and worked to.

If the reforms are implemented by LA and schools as expected by the DfE, they should have a significant effect on the families they work with.  Resources to do this are a major issue as Early Help funding for this is results funded and not needs funded.  Any funding for these reforms needs to ringfenced.

We are concerned that we are hearing from our members the pressure on schools providing wrap around care due to the cost of staffing and energy costs.  Pupil premium does not cover the provision of these services now. 

There remains a stigma to accessing FSMs, which at times is a difficult to barrier to remove.  Cashless systems can certainly help in schools covering key stage 3 & 4.

Breakfast clubs work very well in the primary sector, easy access and sign up are major factors to facilitate their use. Staff need to be aware that it is an option for support, when meeting pupils and parents. They can also be a major factor in supporting the improvement of behaviour in schools at KS 1 & 2.


For some families the food programme is one of the few times they interact with the school/LA.  For better overall support should this be linked directly to attendance/engagement?

Engagement in art/music/sports/domestic science can have a significant impact on a child’s life and engagement in education yet these subjects have been cut back or out of the national curriculum. Children’s talents are not being developed and nurtured unless their parents can afford private tuition in these subjects. 

There is not a module in teacher training surrounding supporting good school attendance and using registration time to prepare pupils for the first lesson of the day.  Many secondary schools use the first lesson of the day as their registration period and this means some pupils are not ready to learn when they walk into class.

The engagement with sports can be a way to encourage engagement with schools, but it should be considered drawing any sports club attended by a pupil into a support package around the family/pupil as outlined in the guidelines.

The attendance at summer schemes can greatly improve transition from primary to secondary school enable pupils to make new friends and get to know their new school especially if activities are held there.

Further thoughts:

If all schools are going to submit live attendance data to the DfE is it time to be looking at a radical rethink by linking engagement with education to benefit payments?   E.g., The system applied in France

In extreme cases of non-engagement this could provide a secondary element to the legal sanctions already in place as defined by section 444 1 and 1A of the 1996 Education Act. 

The sign-up to the data collection has been very positive but it needs to be mandatory for ALL for schools to do so.

The analysis of data is so critical to seeing the facts behind poor attendance we should not be relying on census data which can be nearly a year old before it is published.  

February 2023