chulas One can reach out to families through home visits and phone calls to reduce the high absenteeism rate, an education minister has suggested.
Robin Walker said schools need to take a targeted approach – which could include a teacher calling on parents to reach out to persistently absent children or hiring someone to visit homes.
Attendance consultants recruited by education Department (DFE) are set to begin their work with local authorities and multi-academy trusts, which are grappling with persistent absenteeism, next week.
The schools minister said he wants the advisories, which were first announced in August, to disseminate “best practice” from schools and academy trusts that have successfully re-engaged consistently absent pupils in other schools.
We want to work with the education system in terms of getting kids back to school, but also from families, from parents, to caregivers, to recognize that this is the best, safest place for them.
Mr Walker told the PA news agency: “What we really want to do is challenge long hours of unnecessary absenteeism and support schools with improving their attendance across the board.
“So I’m not going to say now that we’re going in and we’re going to fine people.
“What we want to do is create a system of support and it’s about the mental well-being of the students, it’s about the right approach spread across the system about the use of registers, and how to follow up with those kids. who are out of school.”
Mr Walker visited the London Academy on Thursday, one of the schools with above-average attendance rates, to see how it has dealt with absenteeism.
He highlighted that the North London school has taken a “proactive approach” to dealing with frequent absenteeism, adding that the Academy has hired a social worker to “go out of the house and reach out to families” on home visits. appointed through
Speaking from the school, Mr Walker told the PA that it was “kind of good practice” that DFE wants its attendance advisors to spread to other schools, local authorities and multi-academy trusts.
Asked whether more schools should send staff on home visits, Mr Walker said: “I think what they need to look at – and what they have done very effectively here – is when children are constantly If so, there has to be a specific approach to reach the absentee and manage it and be able to employ someone specifically on that task using the resources of having a very large academy.
“Plus to the parent ringing in where there may be an unexplained absence and going out.”
The challenge is that dealing with persistent absenteeism takes more than a quick conversation or a one-time visit, involves increased work hours and the continued commitment of all involved to resolve the issue.
But he said he would not want teachers to “take away from teaching”.
The minister said: “We want to work with the education system in terms of getting kids back to school, but also from families, from parents, from caregivers to recognize that this is the best, safest place They need to be and where they will be able to get the best support.”
Mr Walker said: “I agree that COVID is still with us and is causing some unavoidable absenteeism – but it is even more so as we all need to address every avoidable reason a child is not in school. Action must be taken to do so.”
His comment came after the Education Secretary nadim zahavi Last month took a pledge to deal with the frequent absence of children.
James Bowen The policy director for the school leaders union NAHT said most schools already use existing staff to work with families to try to improve attendance when a problem is identified.
He said: “The challenge is that dealing with persistent absenteeism takes more than a quick conversation or a one-time visit, it involves working hours and the continued commitment of all involved to resolve the issue.
“The task has been made more difficult by budget cuts in recent years. Many schools can no longer afford a dedicated staff member to perform this important task.
The reasons behind frequent absenteeism are complex and far from simple to solve and cases often involve disadvantaged families.
“In addition, many local authorities have had to lay off staff whose job it was to intervene when attendance became an issue. If the government really wants to tackle the issue, it must be willing to invest in support services schools. , which is desperately needed.”
Geoff Barton General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said: “The reasons for frequent absenteeism are complex and far from simple and cases often involve disadvantaged families.
“Schools and colleges take this very seriously and many are already actively using some of the measures that the Schools Minister has outlined.
“Some schools and colleges already employ designated support staff to work with students and their families or to assign specific responsibilities to existing staff.
“They take a holistic approach, putting the well-being and well-being of the student and their family at the center of a process that often includes home visits and daily phone calls to parents and guardians.”