The freshly released report by the Children’s Commissioner declares a state of emergency around pupil absences in schools. In a briefing on school attendance in England, the Children’s Commissioner states that “last year, over 1 in 5 children were persistently absent, meaning they missed on average at least a day a fortnight in school,” a truly worrisome statistic for the sector.
Recommendations for how schools should tackle the issue of pupil absences include facilitating the relationship with pupil families, stating:
“School attendance policies should clearly state how schools will build and maintain strong relationships with persistently and severely absent children and their families and use these to design bespoke packages of support for persistently and severely absent pupils. Parents and carers should be invited to regular meetings with the school to talk about the key issues driving school absences.”
But how does parental engagement factor into pupil absences?
In the Edurio Parent Engagement Report 2023, we explore aspects of parent experience with their child’s school. 38,000 parents and carers told us what they really want to see from their child’s school. There was a lot of agreement about what parents expect but there were some interesting differences by year group and changes over time.
One of the core aspects of strong parental involvement is the way information is communicated between parents and the school. Parents need to be kept informed about their child in a timely and relevant way to know when they need to engage more.
What we found in our research is that although parents as a whole feel informed about their child’s attendance, parents in schools with high absence rates are the least satisfied with their school’s efforts to engage them - in both primary and secondary schools.
Parents feel most informed about their child’s attendance over other factors
In the report we look at how informed parents feel about aspects of their child's day-to-day life in school. The data shows that there are areas that schools are doing well at informing parents about and other areas where they are not informing parents as well as they could be.
Parents responded that they feel well-informed on elements such as attendance and punctuality. However, parents responded to feeling much less informed about elements such as their child’s social development.
The difference in positive responses between primary and secondary parent respondents is not that large in the areas where parents feel more informed overall, however, in the areas where parents as a whole do not feel as informed, the difference between primary and secondary is larger.
This is especially seen in how informed parents feel about homework (16% difference) and how their child is doing socially (26% difference).
A closer look at parent satisfaction with engagement and school absence rates
Although attendance is a topic that parents with children in both primary and secondary feel well informed about, a striking difference presents itself when comparing parent satisfaction with engagement and pupil absence rates, published by the National Statistics release of Pupil absence in schools in England, Autumn and Spring term 2022/23.
Of the parents whose child attends a primary school with a low absence rate, 70% felt completely or quite satisfied with the school’s efforts to engage them as parents. There is a 6% difference with parents whose child attends a primary school with a high absence rate, of which 64% felt completely or quite satisfied with the school’s efforts to engage them as parents.
Of the parent respondents whose child attends a secondary school with a low absence rate, 57% felt completely or quite satisfied with the school’s efforts to engage them as parents. There is a significant 14% difference in satisfaction with engagement with parents whose child attends a secondary school with a high absence rate feeling only 43% completely or quite satisfied with the school’s efforts to engage them as parents.
Our data show that parents that are satisfied with the school’s communication are also more likely to be satisfied with the school’s efforts to engage them. By keeping channels of communication open, you will build a parent-school relationship that is a true partnership: prioritising and communicating that both sides are on the same team with the same goal - supporting the child in their school journey.
If you’re struggling with pupil absences, take a look at the parental engagement in your school.
- Run a Parent Experience survey to see how your population of parents and carers are feeling about their relationship with your school. Reach out to us for a demo at
- Read through the Edurio Parental Engagement Report 2023 to find out more about what parents across England are saying about their child’s school’s parental engagement.
- Join us for a webinar, November 23, 2023, where we’ll come together to discuss opportunities and challenges around parental engagement and look for common solutions to help any organisation engage with parents more meaningfully.
Get in touch with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org