School Attendance ‘Deep dive’
Since we last updated our members, PaCC have used feedback gathered from parent carers to respond to two Government consultations. These were linked to Government proposals around school attendance and also behaviour in school and suspension and permanent exclusion guidances.
As part of the School Attendance consultation, Brighton & Hove was chosen by Rachel De Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England, to be part of a ‘deep dive’ into school attendance. The deep dive consisted of various services and groups meeting with representatives of the Children’s Commissioner to discuss school attendance in our area, steps taken to improve this and also the difficulties pupils have with school attendance and the reasons for this. It was also an opportunity to discuss what helps pupils when they’re having difficulties with school attendance.
Diana (Chair of PaCC) and Becky (Vice Chair of PaCC) met with two representatives for an hour long meeting and they were able to pass on your experiences and feedback around this specific area. When the findings of the deep dive were presented to the Local Authority, PaCC were pleased to see that our members’ feedback was included – particularly around looking at the factors both in and outside school (“push and pull”) around why a pupil is struggling with school attendance and not just forcing pupils to attend school full time.
PaCC also contributed to the Government consultation around behaviour in school and suspensions and exclusions, using the feedback we have received from parent carers. When answering the questions that made up the consultation, our main message was that SEND and the Equality Act 2010 (particularly around reasonable adjustments) must be taken into account when creating school behaviour policies and with suspension and exclusions. As behaviour is a form of communication, it is important that any incidents are discussed with the pupil and their parent carers to establish if their additional needs or support needs contributed to the incident.
During our participation work, parent carers have mentioned the positives they have experienced when the ATTEND form has been used to support their child with school attendance, and Sarah Ahmed at Brighton & Hove Inclusion Service (BHISS) has written this brief summary for families:
“The ATTEND Framework was developed within Brighton & Hove City Council as an early intervention programme for school-aged pupils between 5 and 16 years when attendance drops below 90%. It aims to identify all of the contributing factors when attendance is low. The ATTEND Framework is not intended as an open checklist but a way to frame a conversation, or series of conversations, with a family within a trusting and collaborative relationship.
Each ATTEND Framework comprises three assessment forms:
- for education professionals working within the local authority children’s workforce;
- for students; and
- for parents or carers; and
- a guidance booklet
- a timeline
- picture cards to use with younger children (or as an alternative to the student form, for those with additional communication needs).”
Adele Tobias, the author of ATTEND, has also recently developed a post 16 version in response to interest and demand from various professionals and services who use ATTEND, such as the Virtual School who support for Children in Care and Children Previously in Care.