Research shows that children who attend school regularly are likely to be more successful. Missing school, for whatever reason, obviously leads to gaps in their knowledge that become difficult to fill and can lead in turn to behaviour which is not acceptable or productive. If a child is missing from school they may be putting themselves at risk of being a victim or a perpetrator of crime. They are also missing out on their educational opportunities.
One important issue is the need to identify children and young people at risk of missing educational opportunities at an early age, and start working on strategies and practices that will encourage learning and improve attendance. It is also important to realise that schools are not only important for the learning they provide, but also for the opportunities to develop their social skills and emotional awareness.
To confuse the matter even more, poor school attenders often have behavioural difficulties in school and are more likely to be excluded. These excluded days are then included in the calculation of the pupil's absence. As a result, although these particular students are probably most in need of the positive experiences that school has to offer, their opportunities are being reduced and their motivations confused by the exclusion. This approach to dealing with behaviour and attendance is likely to confuse both the parents and the students themselves.
Although schools are usually the first to note problems with school attendance, they may not always be able to provide an acceptable solution. If, in spite of their efforts, a pattern of irregular attendance is continuing or getting worse, schools may decide that other agencies or professionals need to become involved. We believe that simply applying psychological or educational strategies or techniques is not likely to produce improvements that are sustained and consistent. It will often be necessary to deal with other factors which influence the student's inclination to attend school and behave in an appropriate manner. Family circumstances, attitudes to education and living conditions often need to be dealt with, and this will necessarily involve several agencies or professionals.
This can be a very confusing and worrying time for parents and carers. Fears and worries often stem from misunderstandings or exaggerations. You may also need to consider whether your child is generally well behaved at home, and whether this behaviour seems out of character. Often the pupil will be unable to express very clearly what is causing their anxiety. This is especially worrying when the pupil is usually well-behaved and has previously performed well at school.Their parents will find themselves caught not knowing whether or not to be sympathetic or whether to put pressure on their child to return to school. Sometimes the situation resolves itself quickly without outside help, but in other cases they have real difficulties and need careful diagnosis and treatment.
We have a great deal of experience dealing with both schools and Local Authorities in connection with attendance issues. We also have a range of resources, techniques and proven strategies to offer parents, teachers, schools, Local Authorities and other professionals in this area. We can act as consultants or we can become directly involved with either the school or the pupil concerned, as required. In this type of situation we would recommend certain actions for all parties involved, as well as becoming directly involved in implementing a range of interventions with the student.