Paul Whiteman, General Secretary at NAHT said: “The NAHT shares the ambition to increase attendance rates in schools, if pupils are not in school then clearly their education will suffer. However, a focus on policies and paperwork alone will not solve the problem of persistent absenteeism. The solution to improving pupil attendance lies in properly funded support services that are able to intervene and help families at the earliest opportunity. Schools already do excellent work in this area but they need the support of specialist services too.
NAHT agrees that every child should have the opportunity to thrive – school leaders devote their professional lives to making this ambition a reality. There is so much more the government could be doing to support them with this work. Ensuring that all schools are properly funded, that they can access vital support services and enacting a meaningful plan to tackle child poverty should all be high on the list of the government’s priorities but are sadly lacking in the current proposals.
In regards to plans for schools to become part of multi-academy trusts (MATs), we know that many school leaders are already doing an excellent job within a trust and value the benefits such a structure can bring. However, it is clear that a large proportion of our members remain to be convinced that further structural reform is the key to improving pupil outcomes. The government must address the legitimate concerns many school leaders have raised about this policy if it is to achieve its stated ambition.”
First published 10 May 2022