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Government must listen to families of Disabled children on school attendance

03 March 2022

DR UK has responded to a Department for Education (DfE) consultation on stricter attendance rules in schools.

The Government’s School attendance: improving consistency of support consultation outlined concerns regarding a drop in attendance in recent years due to ‘COVID-related absence’. The consultation set out various proposals to improve attendance in school, including stricter rules and legal prosecutions for parents.

Reasons for non-attendance can be complex, with non-attendance not always being defiant truancy, but caused by a genuine impairment or health condition, such as poor mental health resulting from a lack of meaningful SEND provision. DR UK is aware of significant numbers of neurodivergent children who fall into this bracket.

The Guardian reported recently that parents of clinically extremely vulnerable children have been threatened with fines and prosecution if they do not stop home-schooling.

Bethany Bale, Education Policy Officer at DR UK, said: “We have responded to the Government’s consultation on attendance, highlighting the main areas of concern we have around the DfE’s proposals. It’s not only essential that the Government considers the full range of barriers Disabled students face regarding attendance, but it’s also important to remember that ‘attendance support’ means so much more than the number of children in school. It means the real ability to access education and reach their full potential – even if that’s outside the traditional structures of school and attendance.” Read our response here.