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DfE’s policy on absence yields results

23 February 2015

Claims by the DfE that its latest research shows a clear correlation between attendance and achievement has met with controversy. Critics have pointed to the data being crude as it does not take into account other factors such as reasons for the absence or the impact of different types of absence.

Head teachers have discretion to authorise absence in exceptional circumstances. Clearly in most cases authorising absence for a holiday is unlikely to fall into the definition of an ‘exceptional circumstance’ compared to authorising absence following a family tragedy. There will always be an element of unfairness that accompanies discretion; what may be authorised in one school may not be in another. Yet the key headline from this research is that absence has gone down and as a result fewer children are missing school. Surely, despite the lack of deep analysis, that can only be regarded as a good thing.

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