It sometimes strikes me as odd that there is even a question over whether there is a link between attendance and pupil achievement, after all if there isn’t then what are schools for? The evidence clearly suggests that pupils with good school attendance do better both academically and socially, and that persistent absence compounds pre-existing disadvantage. Amongst these absent pupils are those who feel that school is not a place for them or is somewhere that has become too emotionally demanding to cope with. These are the pupils who require the most intensive support when there are scarce resources. Recent guidance published by Leeds Beckett University explores what reasonable adjustments might be made, offering some individualised strategies for pupils with caring responsibilities, those with friendship difficulties and those not coping with pressure. The wider responsibilities of schools to provide responsive, safe, and inclusive environments for learning, sometimes rest on limited investment in personal social education. With timetabling and professional development time having to be tightly managed, and so many competing priorities is it any wonder that busy teachers can sometimes feel that this is ‘just another thing’ rather than something that creates the foundation on which great learning and engagement happens. We have all been inspired by those teachers who can build compassionate and mutually respectful relationships with pupils, maintaining a sense of young people as individuals despite the busyness of the school day. You sometimes hear the refrain that ‘I came into this to be a teacher, not a social worker’, but learning is a social process and we ignore the development of the individual at our peril.

I hope that you take this weekend to enjoy being yourself. Thank you for your work and commitment. The end of term is almost in sight!

Stephen Hall

Chief Executive Officer, Camden Learning

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