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England's World Leading Attendance Drive Continues

Next phase of DfE’s world-leading attendance drive will provide new data for schools to help them spot trends in children’s attendance for earlier intervention.

New data reveals that 375,000 more children across all year groups were in school almost every day last year, as the Government looks to deliver the next phase of its internationally recognised attendance strategy.

The launch of a new in-depth daily data tool today (Friday 10 May) means schools can now identify absence trends across different year groups and pupil characteristics so they can address areas of concern to drive up improvements in attendance.

More children were in school almost every day - around 14 more children in the average primary school and 39 more pupils in the average secondary school – compared with 2021/22. This trend was across the country and all year groups – including key vulnerable cohorts such as children with special educational needs or those receiving free school meals.

The Department for Education is asking schools to use this tool to spot attendance trends and act quickly in supporting pupils. 

The latest data tool published today comes a week after the OECD has recognised England’s wide ranging and ‘comprehensive’ strategy for tackling school absence. While the report recognised school attendance is a global issue following the pandemic, it highlighted England’s world leading data collections which support and inform our attendance initiatives and statutory guidance, while many other countries had data collection limitations.

England’s attendance levels are significantly higher than those in Wales and Scotland. In the last year, pupils in England were attending school over a week and a half more than children in Wales, and nearly a week more than children in Scotland. Previous Government analysis also shows 440,000 fewer children were persistently not attending last year compared to the year before.

It builds on the Government’s success in raising school standards alongside the hard work of teachers and school leaders, with 90% of schools now rated by Ofsted as Good or Outstanding, up from just 68% in 2010. Pupils in England are now ‘best in the West’ at reading and have risen to 11th in the global maths rankings, up from only 27th in 2009, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study.

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan said:

As the OECD has recognised, and thanks to our brilliant teachers and head teachers, England is leading the world in our approach to helping children return to the classroom.

Attendance is my number one priority. Alongside schools, I am one of the only Education Secretaries in the world to now have in-depth daily attendance data at their fingertips, giving the government, councils and schools the insights needed to target pupils who need the most support.

Being in school has never been more valuable which is why we need to stick to our plan to drive up attendance and ensure every child gets a world-class education. 

CEO of Northern Education Trust and the Government’s Attendance Ambassador, Rob Tarn said:

This new data approach is a big step forward in our work to return attendance to pre-pandemic levels and beyond.

We used this data to identify patterns of absence in one cohort of Year 7 students in one of our academies. This has allowed us, working closely with the LA, to target intensive intervention to reduce the number of this cohort who are persistently absent.

By using this more granular breakdown of absence and benchmarking performance against local and national data headteachers can take the make strategic decisions and be laser focused in their response to the absence profile in their school.

These tools follow new statutory guidance on attendance, Working Together to Improve School Attendance, coming into force in August, which asks all schools to develop strategies for reducing persistent and severe absence, including access to wider support services via the local authority. This includes expectations to include termly meetings between local authorities and schools to agree plans for severely absent children, and schools appointing attendance champions and publishing an attendance policy.

The plan includes a national attendance hubs initiative reaching a million students, and pilot attendance mentoring programme backed by £15 million. This Government has also invested £2.9bn this financial year in the Pupil Premium, which can be used to support attendance.

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