Students are more likely to miss school on Fridays as parents work from home, lawmakers say

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more students are skipping school on Fridays because parents tend to work from home, a parliamentary committee said.

An analysis of pre- and post-pandemic attendance data found that some students were skipping school on Fridays. This is a trend not seen before the pandemic, said England’s Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza.

She told the House Educational Choices Committee on Tuesday: My parents are home on Friday. We have evidence from our children saying, “You know Mom and Dad are home, so stay home.”

De Souza said educators are seeing “slightly different attitudes” from parents after the COVID-19 lockdown.

She called for further efforts to increase attendance, saying it was “everyone’s job.”

“All of us, especially ministers, education leaders, local government leaders and parliamentarians, are talking about how important the contract between parents and schools is and how important schools are to children. increase.

“It’s not just about getting a great education. It’s also about protection, good mental health, all the activities, wider than we want. I can’t urge everyone to sing it from.It’s a matter of the message.”

permanent absence

The commissioner told parliamentarians that levels of “permanent absenteeism” — children missing more than 10 percent of their school time — remained high after COVID-19.

She cited an estimated figure of 818,000 absent from school for reasons other than illness, out of the 1.6 million children who remained absent in the fall and spring terms of 2021 and 2022.

De Souza said she was “deeply concerned” about the number of children who continue to be absent, adding that it has become “one of the problems of our time”.

She told lawmakers that discussions with family members have revealed many reasons why the pandemic is still having a negative impact on attendance.

“One thing is because of online learning during COVID-19, I was like, ‘Well, why not just study online?

She said the main reasons children skip school are that their special educational needs are not being met, as well as anxiety and mental health issues.

But she added that there are also groups of students who “just don’t come back” since the pandemic.

British school children on September 12, 2018. (PA)

withdrawal from education

Alice Wilcock, head of education at the Center for Social Justice think tank, told lawmakers that she was witnessing a “massive shift towards disengaging education”.

“The local authorities said they have taught parents that school may or may not be important due to the pandemic. It is deeply ingrained in our attendance patterns.”

Wilcock also said problems with social media use were exacerbated during the lockdown, leaving many parents unprepared.

she said:

“Bullying used to be in the classroom and quite prominent. Now it’s online and parents don’t feel prepared to tackle it. I don’t feel ready to do it.”

broken social contract

This isn’t the first time educators have warned of declining school attendance following COVID-19 lockdowns.

Amanda Spielman, chief inspector at UK education watchdog Offstead, said student attendance was “sustainably” lower than before the pandemic in December, a “serious and worrying problem”. ‘, he said.

she said: On the one hand, there is a clear expectation that parents should send their children to school every day unless they are too sick to go to school. In return, the school gives children a good education and does everything they can to prepare them really well for their future, adult life.

“The disruption caused by the pandemic and the expectation that children should stay at home has broken that. , broke the routine of waking the kids up and taking them to school every day.”

She said the school’s inspector confirmed “sustainably running slightly lower attendance rates than pre-pandemic, in addition to what could be attributed to illness.”

Spielman warned that some families seem to have “lost sight” of the expectation that children should be sent off each morning to receive an in-person education.

She added: The school is working really hard to rebuild it. I know a huge amount of work is being done to help families and children. “

PA Media contributed to this report.