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School attendance difficulties were first identified by psychiatrists in the 1930s as distinct from truancy, when they characterised a group of children who were generally well-behaved, above-average academically and free of anti-social behaviour. In the space of 80+ years, there has been some helpful research, but not enough to provide comprehensive and proven guidance, particularly when the difficulties become entrenched. As the education and SEND systems experience more challenges, with delays for assessment and support, ever higher thresholds for services, and increasing budget cuts, the impact is being seen on anxiety levels and school attendance. More research is needed, particularly around triggers & influencers, prevention and effective interventions.



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Square Peg is working with four experts in child psychology at various universities: Professor Cathy Creswell (Oxford), Professor Lucy Bowes (Oxford), Dr Polly Wait (Reading) and Professor Tamsin Ford (Exeter). Together, we are reviewing the existing research and identifying gaps in the research around prevention, influencers/triggers and effective interventions. We will then identify potential grants for these projects.


In February/March 2020, Dr Louise Gazeley, Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Sussex and Square Peg are hosting a workshop event to try and create innovative solutions around school attendance difficulties. Our aim is to connect academics, practitioners and professionals from the fields of psychology, education, law, sociology and technology who all have an interest in this topic.