Understanding a pupil’s barriers to attendance

When a pupil is at risk of persistent absence, follow these steps to get to the bottom of the issue. Find out how to have productive discussions with the pupil and their parents/carers, and how to use what you’ve found to create a bespoke reintegration plan.

Last reviewed on 12 July 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 46767
  1. Take action as soon as you notice a drop in attendance
  2. Use our template to gather evidence
  3. Assemble a team to support the pupil and their family
  4. Gather information about the pupil
  5. Get information from colleagues
  6. Invite the parents/carers into school to talk
  7. Hear directly from the pupil
  8. Create a plan for reintegration

A pupil’s attendance difficulties are usually symptoms of deeper issues. To deal effectively with persistent or severe absence, you’ll need to get a better understanding of exactly what’s going on with the pupil and their family, and then create a bespoke plan to tackle the individual barriers they face.

Use this guide to identify a pupil’s barriers to attendance, and to help you create a reintegration plan that's tailored to their specific needs.

Take action as soon as you notice a drop in attendance

It’s best to act early, before a pupil's attendance issues have become entrenched.

Check your school has – and enforces – robust procedures for diligently and consistently recording attendance data, and that a named member of staff is responsible for monitoring and analysing that data.

They should look out for patterns in absence and flag concerns about any individual pupil whose attendance has declined or whose pattern of attendance has noticeable changed.