DfE also confirms £15m rollout of attendance mentor scheme and new parent marketing campaign

DfE also confirms £15m rollout of attendance mentor scheme and new parent marketing campaign

Persistent absence rates in schools have remained high since the pandemic

Eighteen new attendance hubs have been announced as part of a new government push on cutting stubbornly-high post-Covid absence rates.

The Department for Education made three announcements today, including what it dubbed a “major expansion” of the school attendance hubs scheme.

A total of 32 hubs will now provide support to help drive down absence at 2,000 schools across the country, however this still equates to fewer than one in ten schools. See the full list of new hubs below.

The key announcement today was a £15 million expansion of the attendance mentoring scheme to reach more than 10,000 persistently absence pupils and their families over the next three years.

Schools Week first revealed the expansion back in November.

A national marketing campaign, with the strapline ‘Moments matter, attendance counts’, will also launch today. Aimed at parents, it will highlight the importance of school attendance for attainment, wellbeing and development.

In total, 22.3 per cent of pupils missed more than one in 10 sessions in the 2022-23 academic year. This has barely improved from the 22.5 per cent rate in 2021-22, despite huge focus from schools and politicians.

Almost two in five disadvantaged pupils were persistently absent.

Before the pandemic, the persistent absence rate sat at between 10 to 13 per cent.

‘Contract of trust broken’

More than one in four parents now say Covid has shown it is not essential children attend school every day, according to a new Centre for Social Justice poll.

Andy Cook, chief executive of the think tank, set up by Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, said the “contract of trust” between schools and parents had been broken.

“The consequences of so many kids missing so much school will only result in unfulfilled lives, fractured communities, and spiralling costs to the taxpayer for picking up the pieces,” he added.

The think tank called for a review into the effectiveness of pupil absence fines, a National Parental Participation Strategy and for every child to have access to at least five hours per week of extracurricular activities.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan said tackling attendance is her “number one priority. We want all our children to have the best start in life because we know that attending school is vital to a child’s wellbeing, development, and attainment as well as impact future career success.”

But Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said it had “become a peripheral issue under the Conservatives… education has to be front and centre of national life once more”.

She will be “setting out Labour’s long-term plan for our schools” this week, with a launch speech at a CSJ event on Tuesday.

The new 18 attendance hubs

  • Ark Priory Primary Academy (Ark Schools)
  • Galliard Primary School (Children First Academy Trust)
  • Noel Park Primary School (Academies Enterprise Trust)
  • The Beacon Church of England Primary School (Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust)
  • St Bede’s Catholic Academy (Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust)
  • Tidemill Academy (REACH2 Academy Trust)
  • Forest Academy (Inspire Partnership Academy Trust)
  • Ashington Academy (North East Learning Trust)
  • Bedford Free School (Advantage Schools)
  • Bluecoat Wollaton Academy (Archway Learning Trust)
  • Denbigh High School (Chiltern Learning Trust)
  • Drayton Manor High School (Drayton Manor High School Academy Trust)
  • Landau Forte College (Landau Forte Charitable Trust)
  • Mulberry Academy Shoreditch (Mulberry Schools Trust)
  • St Paul’s Way Trust School
  • The Hurlingham Academy (United Learning Trust)
  • The Khalsa Academy Wolverhampton (The Khalsa Academies Trust Limited)
  • Wright Robinson College (Flagship Learning Trust)