'Sensible albeit obvious' – Ofsted's attendance advice focuses on the basics

School leaders have welcomed new Ofsted advice on improving attendance, although have gently pointed out that much of what inspectors have to say on the issue is “obvious”.

The advice urges school leaders to prioritise listening to and supporting parents and pupils and setting high expectations.

School leaders have also pointed to the elephant in the room when it comes to attendance – namely that cuts to local authority and school budgets have led to reduced support from attendance officers and/or reduced funding for often crucial pastoral or SEN support.

The report – Securing good attendance and tackling persistent absence (Ofsted, 2022) – distils its advice down to: “Listen, understand, empathise and support – but do not tolerate.”

It emphasises persistence and high expectations and urges leaders to ask “questions about what, if anything, they need to do differently to remove barriers to pupils’ attendance”.

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