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Rob Devey
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Email: press.office@naht.org.uk 

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NAHT responds to research showing long waits for mental health help fuel school absence

Responding to a new report from the Centre for Mental Health and the Children & Young People’s Mental Health Coalition on how poor mental health and long waits for support are fuelling school absence, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“School is the best place for children, and schools work extremely hard to support pupils who find full time attendance difficult.

"However, we hear from school leaders how attendance is being impacted by the difficulties families face when trying to access support from community services like mental health and social care, and this can be particularly challenging for families with children who have special educational needs.

“Government funding for these services simply hasn’t kept pace with demand, meaning less capacity, long waiting lists and higher thresholds for support. Without access to timely help, children’s needs can spiral and the effect on their attendance and engagement in learning can be significant.

“Fines for parents have proved to be a blunt and ineffective instrument in tackling non-attendance. If ministers are serious about addressing the root causes of persistent absence they must invest properly in essential support services so these services can help families with issues in their lives - including funding local authorities to restore key roles like education welfare officers which have fallen victim to government austerity.”

First published 24 April 2024