Where are England’s Children? Safeguarding the most vulnerable children through Attendance monitoring
This week saw the publication of Where are England’s Children? Interim findings from the Children’s Commissioner’s Attendance Audit.
In order to investigate how much Local Authorities (LAs) know about children that are missing education, the Children’s Commissioner’s office surveyed 145 LAs, which makes up 96 per cent of the total. The report said that figures from councils suggested that 22 per cent of pupils were persistently absent last term, while 1.5 per cent of pupils were severely absent.
These estimates suggest 1,782,000 children were persistently absent and 124,000 children were severely absent.
In Dame Rachel de Souza’s initial recommendations, one suggestion is to collect data between schools and local authorities in “real-time” on a pupil-level basis as opposed to a school-level basis. While this is a good idea in theory, in practice relying purely on this data is likely to flawed as a straightforward data extract without any context sometimes only tells half the story. We talk about this more in our related blog Does your Authority issue fines to parents of absent children? New consultation launched by DfE to end postcode lottery in how schools manage avoidable absence.
How we support Attendance monitoring
We agree with Dame Rachel, attendance is massively important. Establishing where missing children are and helping understand the reasons for them not attending – illness, disengagement, or where additional support is needed – is central to the ways in which we support LAs.
Welfare Call works with LAs to safeguard the most vulnerable of children and monitors attendance through an innovative hybrid of data extraction coupled with a trained team of people on hand to speak to schools directly, ensuring the greatest accuracy possible.
And there are much wider benefits to being able to offer data extraction combined with a professional in-house team that extend far beyond data accuracy:
- We have daily interaction with schools so authorities know exactly where their vulnerable children are at all times.
- As we’re communicating with schools, social workers and carers, we not only gain the attendance marks but we’re able to gain the contextual information behind any absences too.
- Engaging with multiple stakeholders in this way ensures that the information reported back to authorities is accurate and any necessary interventions can be put in place.
- With the expansion of the Virtual School role in monitoring all children with a social worker and the subsequent request for us to monitor larger cohorts of children, we are now providing authorities with an even bigger and more accurate picture of where their children are.