Written evidence submitted by Inspiration Trust

Inspiration Trust is a multi-academy trust which sponsors 16 schools in the Norfolk area. We have a strong track record in turning round existing schools and founding new ones.

I just wanted to share with you some of our data on pupil absence. It is one of the regrettable features of the post-Covid era that pupil absence has elevated. We are trying numerous strategies to manage the situation and ensure pupils are in school.

The critical point of attendance is that it is one of the single biggest determinants of attainment. Put simply, those pupils with increased absence do worse at school and there is direct causation. In our experience, it is disadvantaged pupils who are most likely now to have a poor attendance record.

On a population-wide basis, the conclusion must be that the nationwide trend of increased absence risks a vicious circle of widening education inequality.

From the data below you will see that our P8 scores show that those who attended school between 95% and 100% of the time typically received GCSE grades nearly one (0.86) grade higher than their peer group nationally; and that progress drops for every day they have off school, falling to nearly one (0.8) grade below the peer group for those who only attended on 85% or fewer days.



The situation is especially noticeable in English and Maths, where of those who attended on 95% of days, 62.3% received grades 5-9; but that falls to only 22.5% for those who attended on 85% of days or fewer.




This becomes even more stark when you filter the data by PP/non – PP as shown below:

The chart below shows that only 14% of those on pupil premium – who attended on fewer than 85 days – attained grades 5-9 in English and Maths. By contrast, those on pupil premium who attended on 95% of days or more did much better, with 48% attaining grades 5-9 in English and Maths.

Our data showed that when a PP child attends for more than 90% of the time in our schools, the probability this pupil will achieve a positive P8 is 66%. This drops to just 33% if attendance is below 85%. Given this, it is imperative that improving attendance must be a priority this year.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, secondary school attendance in the Autumn Term was lower than last year, reflecting national trends. Non-Pupil Premium pupils were at 93% attendance and Pupil Premium pupils at 87%. That is a 6% difference.

The trend has continued into the Spring Term with our average year 11 Pupil Premium attendance to date dropping to just 83% compared to non-Pupil Premium at 91%, the result of which was sadly very evident from mock exams sat in November.

I hope this compelling data helps inform the Committee’s Inquiry and we look forward to its recommendations on how this very serious trend can be addressed and reversed nationally.

February 2023