Did you hear Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning?
Dame Rachel spoke about her concerns for the 1.6 million children who are persistently absent from school. Describing attendance as ‘the biggest problem facing us’, she called on the Government to prioritise support for children and young people so that the barriers that prevent them from attending can be identified and removed.
The number of children and young people who are classed as persistently absent has increased from 10 per cent before Covid-19, to around 22 per cent today. Reasons for this increase were identified as disrupted habits and routines because of the pandemic with, for example, some parents allowing their children to stay home on Fridays. The crisis in children’s mental health is also a factor, the report said, as well as the cost of living crisis, with some families under increased pressure because of rising food, housing and energy costs.
Barriers to education
“We have to recognize how big this problem is,” said Dame Rachel, who called on the Government to give schools additional support to help them get children back into school. She said this should include additional help for children with anxiety and Special Educational Needs so that these barriers to education could be removed.
At Thrive, we support Dame Rachel’s call and believe that more needs to be done to help schools to tackle this growing problem. We know that attendance is a huge issue and that there is a solution. We have found that our trauma informed, relational approach has helped schools across the country to significantly improve their attendance rates. Building a strong relationship with a trusted adult and filling gaps in children and young people’s emotional or social development, means that they want to be in school because they feel safe, seen and heard.
'Truancy levels have dropped dramatically'
Here are what schools say about how the Thrive Approach has helped them to tackle attendance problems:
“The biggest difference we have observed so far in our journey with Thrive is that truancy levels have dropped dramatically. We have seen children who used to either leave the site or spend most of the day hiding in the toilets seeking out Thrive practitioners to have a discussion about why they are having problems.”
"Thrive has enabled us to identify the barriers to learning that pupils have and to remove them."
Want to find about more about how Thrive can help your school to improve attendance?
Click here to schedule a Discovery Call with your regional expert. Designed to fit in around your schedule, these free 30-minute conversations via Teams give you a chance to have your questions answered, decide if our service is a fit for your needs, and identify if your schools qualify for a £1,200 DfE grant.
Further resources on attendance:
Listen to the Thrive podcast featuring Jayne Lowe, OBE, an education consultation and Department for Education adviser, who puts forward some practical suggestions for what classroom staff and senior leaders can do to help improve attendance in their settings. Listen here.
Listen to the Thrive podcast focused on how schools can help to tackle Emotional Based School Avoidance, featuring Thrive Relationship Manager Dom Sagar, who suggests some simple strategies of how schools can help. Listen here.
Listen to the Today programme report here from 1:48
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