29th February 2024

EPI comments on new government regulations to improve school attendance

Responding to the announcement of new government regulations to improve school attendance, Emily Hunt, Associate Director for Social Mobility and Vulnerable Learners at the Education Policy Institute (EPI). said: 

“With more than one in five children persistently absent from school, and vulnerable children most likely to be missing out on education, the government is right to make tackling this a priority.

“Our research has highlighted that the barriers to attendance are multifaceted and go well beyond schools, including rising child poverty, worsening mental health and crumbling support services.

“Proposals to require schools to share their registers across the sector could be a positive step, providing policymakers and education providers with better data to identify trends and inform decision-making.

“However, increasing the cost of fines for parents whose children miss school is likely less effective than measures to support families and tackle the root causes of absence. There is a risk that not only do fines fail to address the attendance barriers that families face, but that they are counter-productive through placing additional strains on family finances. Such punitive measures should only be used as a last resort.

“We have previously called for investment to improve both mental health provision in schools and support for children with SEND, alongside the urgent need for a cross-government child poverty strategy. We also need higher levels of funding for disadvantaged children and a much stronger evidence base on why so many children are missing school.”