Friday absenteeism among pupils
The rise in pupil absence, especially on Fridays, in schools across England has raised concerns for the children's commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza.
The pandemic has significantly impacted children's mental health, causing a shift in attitudes, resulting in many students staying home for various reasons, such as unaddressed special educational needs, disabilities, mental health issues, and other disadvantages.
In England, persistent school absenteeism is a significant issue, with 818,000 out of 1.6 million absent children being not ill. The trend of Friday absenteeism is new and attributed to factors such as increased academic pressure and a lack of extracurricular activities, leading to disengagement from education.
The prolonged waiting lists for child and adolescent mental health services further worsen the issue of absenteeism among pupils. With many students grappling with anxiety and other mental health conditions, these long wait times often result in them being unable to access the appropriate support in a timely manner. Consequently, these students may be pushed out of school due to their inability to cope with academic pressures, leading to an increase in absenteeism rates. This situation poses a significant challenge for educators and policymakers in England as they seek to provide a conducive environment for learning while ensuring that students' mental health needs are met.
However, the government has taken steps to address the issue by investing £2.3bn annually in mental health services, aiming to provide support to 3 million children and young people.
Additionally, the government has committed to increasing the number of mental health teams to almost 400 by April 2023, which is expected to address the challenges faced by children and young people in England today.
To conclude, it's vital to address the problem of pupil absenteeism in schools throughout England, considering the significant shift in attitudes caused by the pandemic, leading to students facing mental health issues and other disadvantages. Nonetheless, with the government's investment in mental health services, there's hope for students to receive the support they require to excel in their education and future endeavors.