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Pupils & learning

Improving school attendance

Understand the board's role in relation to developing an attendance policy, reviewing attendance data and improving outcomes for all pupils.

Pupils-learning young pupils running out of their school gates

Attending school is critically important for children’s life chances, including their attainment, wellbeing, wider development and safeguarding.​

Pupils who already face particular challenges, including pupils on free school meals, pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and pupils with a social worker are also more likely to be absent from school; this widens educational disadvantage.

We have worked with the DfE to produce our guide to improving school attendance which sets out governing board responsibilities and questions to ask in relation to:

  • developing an effective attendance policy
  • regularly reviewing attendance data
  • ensuring staff receive the training they need to improve attendance

Changes to DfE attendance guidance

Our guide has been updated to reflect changes to DfE Working together to improve school attendance guidance which becomes statutory in August 2024. Whilst governance responsibilities have not changed, updates include:

  • an emphasis on working in partnership with families to improve attendance
  • new absence thresholds where schools will have to consider a penalty notice
  • considerations for pupils absent due to mental or physical ill health or their special educational needs and/or disabilities
  • clarified expectations for Senior Attendance Champions
  • a requirement for schools to share daily attendance data (most already do)

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