Department for Education attendance and behaviour policies, and an Ofsted focus on attendance and attainment, are creating problems for both schools and families when a child struggles with school attendance. Local authorities have a duty to provide suitable educational provision, and parents have a duty to ensure their child receives an education suited to their age, ability, aptitude and special educational needs. This can mean that a child struggling with unmet needs at school is put under enormous pressure to attend, even though their needs may not be fully identified or supported. Our education system must develop a better balance between legislation, proven best practice and more national consistency so that those with attendance difficulties, and their families, are properly supported.
PETITION FOR A NEW 'HOLDING' CODE
Within current data collection systems there is no means of evidencing the scale of school attendance difficulties. Pupil absence may be authorised or unauthorised under a number of different school registration codes. This does not recognise the current challenges in the system and unauthorised absence subjects families to fines and prosecutions.
We are working with Education Law specialists Irwin Mitchell and barrister Steve Broach to explore potential legal challenges against the Department for Education on behalf of children with school attendance difficulties. We have now raised the £5,000 needed for the initial stage of work. After this we hope to identify three or four potential cases and apply for legal aid on behalf of those individual children. Please pledge your support and share.