Children are more likely to be absent on Fridays because parents are working from home, children’s commissioner says
- Dame Rachel de Souza said children are using parents WFH to dodge school
A rise in school absences on Fridays could be because parents are working from home, the children’s commission for England said today.
Dame Rachel de Souza told MPs there was a ‘huge’ issue with children missing classes following the pandemic.
Giving evidence to the Commons Education Select Committee, she identified a tendency to think that online learning was ‘fine’ as a substitute.
But Dame Rachel also highlighted a specific issue towards the end of the week, with pupils saying ‘mum and dad are at home, stay at home’.
The comments came as the commissioner was asked about worrying levels of persistent absence – where children miss 10 per cent or more of school time – in the wake of Covid.
A rise in school absences on Fridays could be because parents are working from home, the children’s commission for England said today (stock photo)
Dame Rachel said she is ‘seriously worried’ about the number of children who are persistently absent, adding that it is ‘one of the issues of our age’.
She told MPs that discussions with families have exposed a number of reasons why the pandemic is still having a negative impact on attendance.
‘One is, because of online learning in Covid-19, there’s a little bit of ‘Well, why can’t we just have online learning and that’s fine’. So that attitude has come through a bit,’ Dame Rachel said.
An analysis of attendance data – both before and after Covid-19 – from a number of multi-academy trusts suggests some pupils are now not going in to school on Fridays, a trend which did not exist before the pandemic, she said.
‘We’re seeing a huge amount of Friday absence that wasn’t there before. Parents are at home on Fridays. We’ve had evidence from kids: ‘Well, you know mum and dad are at home, stay at home’.’
Asked if that meant the parents were working from home, Dame Rachel said: ‘Potentially… that is one of the things that is blagged.’
She told MPs: ‘We need our children back to school and I just can’t urge everyone enough to be singing that from the rooftops.’
Dame Rachel said the main reasons why children are off school is because their special educational needs are not being met, as well as anxiety and mental health issues.
But she added there is also a group of pupils who have ‘just not come back’ since the pandemic.
During the session, Alice Wilcock, head of education at the Centre for Social Justice think tank, said: ‘We are seeing a great shift towards disengagement with education.
‘Local authorities said to us that the pandemic taught parents that sometimes school is important and sometimes it’s not, and that is really ingrained in our attendance patterns.’
Ms Wilcock added that there has been a ‘postcode lottery’ of support for families across the country.
Dame Rachel de Souza told MPs there was a ‘huge’ issue with children missing classes following the pandemic
‘I think you have to look at the drivers of absence to understand where parents feel confident supporting their children, where parents actually say we need more support,’ she said.
‘So, for example, with anxiety, a lot of parents are struggling to support their children because they need a trained specialist to support them with anxiety.’
Ms Wilcock told MPs: ‘Especially post-lockdown I think parents are facing social media that they’re not familiar with, that they don’t necessarily know about the online world.
‘Bullying used to be in the classroom and quite visible; now it’s online and parents don’t feel equipped to tackle that.
‘And also parents don’t feel equipped to tackle the gaming addictions that started during the pandemic.’
Source: Read Full Article