The Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, has written a report “Voices of England’s Missing Children”, detailing the findings from the Attendance Audit, commissioned following the outcomes of the Big Ask. The Attendance Audit was launched to dig deeper into the data around pupils not in school and the reliability of data from local authorities. The commissioner’s team surveyed all local authorities, conducted a deep-dive into 10 areas, and interviewed 500 people, including over 300 young people. The aim was to understand the barriers that stop children from attending school regularly and to explore the solutions to help account for every child.
The Commissioner said:
“What I heard was inspiring. I have spoken to children who feel that their school has saved their lives and children whose school has given them the skills and direction to look forward to the future with confidence. Yet, some children we spoke with did not have a positive experience with their education or felt let down by a fractured system. A system that wasn’t designed around them.
Until we have a system that is designed for and around children, using their, and their families’, voices as the catalyst for making things better we cannot be confident that every child is happy, healthy and safe. We need everyone who has a role in children’s lives to design and implement systems and services with this same vision at their heart.”
The report sets out six key ambitions to ensure that every child is supported to be in school every day, ready to learn and is receiving a fantastic education. These are:
Ambition 1. Ask, Listen, Communicate
Ambition 2. Meet children where they are
Ambition 3. Exclusions as a trigger for Intervention
Ambition 4. Let children be children
Ambition 5. Attendance is everyone’s business
Ambition 6. No more ‘known unknowns’
As for learners with SEND, the report insists that exclusion should be the start of a package of support around the child - but this may still be too late. Early identification and access to professionals is also mentioned, though as the SEND review states, this is still a postcode lottery. There is further support for LA support to schools, staff training in SEND, relationships with pupils and parents and a more accessible and navigable SEND system.
Do have your say in the SEND Review Consultation as to how you want these proposals to be implemented.