Pupils: Absenteeism

Department for Education written question – answered at on 23 February 2024.

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Photo of Sarah Dyke Sarah Dyke Liberal Democrat, Somerton and Frome

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of listing school absence as illness without more detail.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Minister of State (Education)

Schools must record absences as authorised where pupils cannot attend school due to illness, regardless of whether the illness is physical or mental health related. The government recognises the importance of understanding what is driving absence to illness. However, it would be unreasonable to expect teachers, at the point of taking the register, to determine and provide additional detail on each instance of illness for pupils as this would be a considerable additional burden on the workforce.

The government acknowledges that some young people are facing difficulties with their mental health and wellbeing and providing them with support remains a priority. The government is putting in record levels of investment, including an additional £2.3 billion of funding a year by March 2024 for all NHS mental health services. This will help an extra 345,000 children and young people receive NHS-funded mental health support, compared to 2018. The department expects schools to ensure data is regularly monitored for pupils with long term illnesses and/or Special Educational Needs or Disabilities, including at board and governing body meetings and in targeting support meetings with the local authority so that additional support from other partners is accessed where necessary.

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