January saw a reminder of the large number of children who do not appear on any school roll(s). Estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000 children, these pupils are not known to be accessing education.
January saw a reminder of the large number of children who do not appear on any school roll(s). Estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000 children, these pupils are not known to be accessing education. Following a number of Covid lockdowns an inquiry has been launched to ‘find these children’ and understand the reasons behind continued and increasing absence and to try to ensure that support is available for children to return to school or access education safely. As restrictions change and we move from ‘pandemic to endemic’ are we seeing enough support to keep pupils in classrooms as attendance of pupils and staff rise, and more schools seeing disjointed learning through a mix of remote and in school teaching?
Given the recent focus on trying to ‘recover’ the education lost over the pandemic, the significant drop in attendance and the highlighted figures showing pupils ‘missing education’; there is concern that there will be even further attainment gaps to make up if attendance improvement is not also deemed a priority. This is especially significant in the run up to a further examination period. The latest Department for Education (DfE) attendance data is seen as ‘troubling’ and the significant slide in attendance figures over the last term could leave the most vulnerable pupils at risk in terms of education, development and wellbeing.
Whilst there are many reasons for non-attendance there is still a significant link to Covid and that needs to be recorded accurately. The DfE recently provided an addendum to their guidance on recording of pupils who are not attending in circumstances relating to Covid for the 2021/22 academic year. This guidance makes it clear that these codes (Code X and I) should only be used where attendance would be contrary to UKHSA/DHSC guidance or legislation in relation to the incidence or transmission of Covid and should not be used for incidental issues such as anxiety around attending school due to Covid. Accurate use of the codes will enable further understanding of the impact of Covid on attendance and the potential impact on education going forwards. The DfE will also launch a consultation on managing school absence to try and combat persistent absence. Getting the relevant data will be the critical first step as there is a vast difference in how attendance is monitored across the country making it difficult to spot potential issues in order to tackle them at an early stage.
This highlights the need for the more detailed attendance and local authority data to be able to provide a clearer picture in a local area to help those on the ground understand the factors causing non-attendance whether that be mental health, financial issues, safeguarding or other barriers. This will allow interventions and best practice to be put at the forefront, (particularly by national leaders forming an ‘attendance alliance’), to support pupils in returning to/accessing education.
Schools need to be aware of what their own attendance data looks like and what actions they can take to monitor and deal with any concerns around attendance, or failures to return following quarantine or isolation. The first steps will be a robust policy for setting out support for regular attendance. Secondly, ensuring that staff are familiar with attendance codes relating to Covid and how these should be used to properly record attendance and/or absence. The next point is to consider how schools and local authorities issue penalty notice fines for non-attendance and how schools should consider any roll changes and what information needs to be passed to the local authority to ensure that data being fed through to the DfE is as accurate as possible. This will ensure that pupils do not fall through the gaps and risk missing education at a crucial time.
Regardless of the outcome of ballots on industrial action, unless there is drastic change to funding for schools in relation to pay increases, it will be unusual to find any organisational budget that is not impacted by the current economic situation.
There’s been little evidence of interventions or financial management reviews this year and it appears the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has re-focussed on financial delivery. It’s also telling that there were no discernible changes to the reporting of financial irregularities in the Academies Trust Handbook 2022.
The Children’s Commissioner, Rachel De Souza, has recently published a report “Beyond the labels: a SEND system which works for every child, every time”, which she intends to sit alongside the DfE’s SEND Review (2019) and SEND Green Paper (2022) and which she hopes will put children’s voices at the heart of the government’s review of SEND system.
As well as providing day-to-day support to help you focus on managing your settings, we also provide training and professional development on a range of topics to keep you and your staff up-to-date.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHCR) recently issued new, non-statutory guidance regarding the wearing of natural or protective hairstyles, specifically in reference to their representation in uniform, behaviour or standalone appearance policies.
Emma Hughes, head of HR services at Browne Jacobson, explains how CST’s updated executive pay report and the linked benchmarking service from XpertHR can help trust boards make robust decisions on pay.
There’s greater opportunity than ever for parents, carers and guardians to voice any concerns they have relating to their child’s education and for their concerns to be heard and to be taken seriously. While most staff in schools and academies are conscious of their legal duties relating to complaints management, many are struggling to cope with such a significant increase in the volume of complaints they must manage.
This guidance has been prepared to support academy trusts (Trusts) who want to hold a fully virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) or a hybrid AGM, as we know that Trusts may want to be prepared for future disruption as well as having a general interest in holding more meetings virtually. The guidance also applies to other meetings of the Members (known as General Meetings).
We’re pleased to collaborate with Lloyds Bank, who recently asked us and audit and risk specialists Crowe UK to offer guidance that academy trusts would find helpful when considering setting up a trading subsidiary.
The DfE has published new guidance and opened the application process for window two of the Trust Capacity Fund (TCaF) for 2022/2023, with a fund of £86m in trust capacity funding focused particularly on education investment areas.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was established in March 2015. We now have its report. As you would expect with such a broad scope, the report is long and makes a number of far-reaching recommendations. In this article, Dai Durbridge highlights seven of the 20 recommendations, sets out how they could impact on schools and suggests what steps to take now.
Browne Jacobson’s education team has been named as winner of the ‘Legal Advisors to Education Institutions’ category at the Education Investor Awards 2022 for a record sixth time.
Since the new Suspensions and Exclusions Statutory Guidance was published, we have received a lot of questions about the use of managed moves. For the first time, the Statutory Guidance does explain what a managed move is, but in relatively broad terms and does not cover the mechanics of how a managed move should operate.
Over 3000 young people from across the UK and Ireland took part in a virtual legal careers insight event, aimed at making the legal profession more diverse.
Holly Quirk, an associate barrister in Browne Jacobson’s Manchester office, was awarded the Legal Professional of the Year Award at this year’s Manchester Young Talent Awards.
The risk of assault against staff is, sadly, something that all schools need to consider carefully. Here one legal expert explains what they can do to protect staff and ensure they fulfil their duty of care.
An engineering company in Tyne and Wear was fined £20,000 after a worker fractured his pelvis and suffered internal injuries after falling through a petrol station forecourt canopy, whilst he was replacing the guttering.