Attendance and mental wellbeing: supporting pupils

Understand how to support pupils struggling with their mental health to attend school, and what to do when they feel like they can’t. Read about your next steps on a whole-school level, how to work with parents and carers and find helpful tips for supporting individual pupils.

Last reviewed on 15 May 2024
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 49479
  1. Understand your responsibilities...
  2. ...but make decisions on a case-by-case basis
  3. Build a positive mental-health culture
  4. Secure your parent/carer partnership
  5. Approach pupils who are struggling as individual cases

Understand your responsibilities...

You should work alongside families to make sure that pupils who experience normal (but difficult) emotions that make them nervous about attending school still attend. 

This is explained in paragraphs 53 and 54 of the DfE's working together to improve school attendance, which applies from 19 August 2024 as statutory guidance. 

The usual processes for supporting a pupil with attendance include:

  • Understanding the individual needs of the pupil and family 
  • Working in partnership with the pupil, their family and the local authority (LA), and other agencies (where appropriate)
  • Regularly reviewing and updating the support approach

However, pupils with long-term mental-health challenges can often have far more complex barriers to attendance, and you may need to provide additional support.

Provide specific pastoral support from a named member of staff, such as a head of year or form tutor, to help improve attendance while supporting the underlying health issue Consider adapting practice and

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