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Millie Clarke
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Rob Devey
Senior press officer
07970 907730

Email: press.office@naht.org.uk 

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NAHT responds to new pupil absence figures

Responding after pupil absence figures were published for the full 2022/23 academic year for the first time, Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“School leaders and teachers are doing all they can to reverse the increase in pupils who are persistently absent post-pandemic, and we are pleased to see the number of children coming back into school is moving in the right direction.

“However, absence rates are still significantly higher than before Covid and much more needs to be done to bring them down. The causes can span everything from illness including mental health issues, to poverty and other challenges at home, and schools alone cannot bear the burden of solving these deep-rooted challenges.

“If the government is serious about getting more pupils back into the classroom, there must be a significant bolstering of funding for the services that support schools including children’s social care, and mental health.

“While the introduction of attendance hubs in some areas is welcome, we need to see much more support for schools, and this must include equipping local authorities to reintroduce welfare officer roles which have been cut in many areas due to government austerity. Welfare officers can play a vital role in understanding the bigger picture facing families, getting them the help they need, and supporting school attendance.”

First published 21 March 2024