Written evidence submitted by the Canterbury Academy

The Canterbury Academy is part of a small multi-academy-trust, comprising provision from 0-19 through from nursery provision to sixth form, with accompanying PRU provision and SRPs in autism and speech and language.  Due to time constraints, this response is focussed on the experiences of the secondary phase (11-16).

The school is a comprehensive school within a selective (grammar) area. The local area is also well supplied with private school provision. The school’s catchment is drawn from a wide area with some pockets of deprivation, and it is located within a large social housing development.  The school’s PPG percentage is around 30%, somewhat above the national average. 

Patterns of persistent absenteeism
School attendance data, including the tracking of disadvantaged groups is tracked using FFT’s Aspire software and is accountable via a senior member of staff. Further monitoring is conducted by the school’s senior SENCO.
Our data consistently shows 2 particularly clear key areas of entrenched absenteeism; FSM/PPG and pupils with an EHCP.


Whilst there has always been a stubborn attendance gap in this area, there is a clear increase in persistent absenteeism in this group since Covid19. The impact of this is greatest in year 11, pupils whose education was disrupted during the particularly socially formative years in year 8 and 9.
Attendance staff report that across this group, school refusal behaviours have intensified. The school is lucky to have retained support, SENCO and attendance staff for many years, who bring cross-generational knowledge of our families. They note that low attendance follows family patterns.

Factors causing persistent absences in PPG cohort.

What we do to support our PPG pupils
In addition to engaging with statutory enforcement measures, at the Canterbury Academy we have recently undertaken a radical approach, creating a mentoring programme between form tutors and ALL PPG families. This involves structured conversations between school, pupil and parent, discussing all aspects of school life and offering support where possible. Some barriers to this programme include difficulties engaging the hardest to reach families, staff confidence in tackling some of the big issues raised and staff workload creating difficulties with high-quality follow-up.

To address the mental health aspects, the school has recently engaged with Place to Be to offer early mental health interventions and a range of other in-school counselling is available. It is too early to measure the impact of this.

What we need


EHCP pupils and attendance

There is a considerable overlap with PPG disadvantaged groups, so the issues can be hard to isolate, however the attendance team note that pupils with an EHCP are presenting an increasing attendance challenges to the school.

Parents are increasingly keen to secure an EHCP in preparation for the transition from primary to secondary school. Alongside this increase, there has been an increase in EHCPs making specialist provision recommendation.  This then creates a cascade of problems for pupils and schools

What we do

The ethos of the Canterbury Academy is determinedly inclusive. Through a creative use of curriculum and partner provisions, parents are generally confident that their children will be welcomed and supported by our school.

The school has partnered with specialist provision providers across the spectrum of needs, with small but important provisions in speech and language, autism and sensory needs. We provide in this vein, as our tagline promises: As much as possible, as often as possible, for as many as possible.

For our enrolled children who we fill cannot engage with school, but might benefit from home tuition, resources and tutoring are provided to support home education. No framework or ring-fenced funding is provided centrally for this approach, and our SENCO feels sometimes overwhelmed at having to

What we need

February 2023