There are lots of reasons why young people choose to skip school or parents might decide not to send them.
Getting back into the right frame of mind and routine after the huge disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is one.
Others could include concern about upcoming exams, family worries, falling out with friends, bullying, or general stress and anxiety.
The barriers can be many, but equally there is plenty of support, advice and guidance available and the sooner obstacles to school attendance are addressed, the sooner they can be overcome.
This is the message from Cornwall Council’s Together for Families service as the new academic year approaches and children, parents and carers gear up for the start of term.
It comes as figures show school attendance has dropped considerably in recent years. Nationally, the absence rate for the 2022/23 school year was 7.4%, which is well above the rates of 4-5% seen pre-COVID. In Cornwall the figure is slightly higher at 8.5%.
Furthermore, 24.2% of pupils nationally were described as ‘persistently absent’, meaning they missed 10% or more half-day school sessions. In Cornwall this figure was higher at 34.5%.
Kate Evan-Hughes, service director for education and community health, said:
“We understand that the start of a new school year can be a difficult time for parents. You, your child, or both of you could be experiencing a lot of anxiety about it for a multitude of reasons.
“But these barriers must be broken down because attendance at school is key to shaping your child’s future and supporting them in achieving their dreams.
“Daunting as it may be to tackle the issues you’re facing, there is a huge range of support available to you from the council’s Education Welfare Service and the school itself. So, if school attendance is likely to become an issue don’t hang around, speak up and seek help.”
Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, cabinet member for children and families at Cornwall Council, said:
“My message to all the children and young people out there is this: if you want to give yourself the best opportunities in life and become the best version of yourself then attending school and getting an education is vital.
“It might be the last thing you want to do, what with all the other things going on in your life, but it really is important. So, if you find yourself wanting to skip school, talk to someone about why. Talk to a teacher. Talk to your family. Check out the tips and advice on the Start Now website, as they might have been written by someone going through the same things as you.
“Those barriers you’re facing are there to be smashed down, and there are lots of people out there who can help you do this.”
You can also visit the council’s Education Welfare Service web pages for more information on attendance and how to access support.
Press release issued on August 29, 2023.