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Department for Education

Attendance, behaviour and exclusions

March 2022

Attendance, behaviour and exclusions of children and young people at school remains a major focus for the Department for Education and the wider education sector at the moment. For example, this week, the Children’s Commissioner published a report into the current state of school attendance. Where are England’s Children? Interim findings from the Children’s Commissioner’s Attendance Audit | Children’s Commissioner for England (childrenscommissioner.gov.uk)

Last week, NNPCF Cochairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia met with different teams from the DfE who are working on guidance and legislation across these areas.

We have had very clear feedback from parent carer forums on the underlying issues underpinning these areas which we reiterated to the DfE teams – namely that in the majority of cases, concerns with behaviour and attendance for children with SEND should be regarded as a failure of the system that is there to support them:

  • Families tell us that many SEND pupils are being failed by schools and feel that they do not get the right support from the system which means they are unable to attend school or become frustrated and angry.
  • Anxiety is a major factor in low attendance for many children and young people with SEND and this has been exacerbated by the Covid 19 pandemic.
  • Most parents of children with SEND that are being home educated do not do so by choice – it is because they feel that there is no alternative for them.
  • Penalising (including fining) children or parents for poor attendance at school simply does not work for SEND families – this simply adding additional pressures to families that are already often under extreme strain.
  • We emphasised the importance of reasonable adjustments to make sure that children with SEND could remain and prosper in school environments that are often very challenging for them.
  • We signposted the teams to work such as the autism in schools project that focusses on early intervention, reasonable adjustments and proper support as being examples of best practice.
  • We asked the DfE to ensure it took a joined up approach across areas all three areas and guidance to ensure that schools and families did not get mixed messages.

We posted last week on how you can have your say into these ongoing consultations – you can find the NNPCF website article here:

Opportunities to change school systems for Children and Young People with SEND – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C (nnpcf.org.uk)

We also directed the team to our recent work on attendance and home education for more details. You can find the relevant articles on the NNPCF website:

Education Committee Inquiry into Home Education – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C (nnpcf.org.uk)

School attendance for children and young people with SEND – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C (nnpcf.org.uk)

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