Both schools and Kent County Council believe that children must attend school regularly in order to benefit fully from the education provision. Ensuring good school attendance is a key issue, especially for vulnerable groups where early indications of other more serious underlying problems can be reflected in erratic or poor attendance. Nearly 50% of young people who become home educated have a history of persistent absence from school. Poor attendance is also a high risk factor for children and young people who are excluded and those who become NEET.
KCC takes robust legal action in cases of persistent or severe absence where support has been unsuccessful or not engaged with where it is appropriate to do so. Legal intervention is a last resort and solely a process that KCC follows to try to bring about an improvement in a child’s attendance. The number of Fixed Penalty Notices per thousand pupils issued by KCC is among the highest in the country. While Fixed Penalty Notices have their place among a range of measures to tackle poor attendance, there is a need for a rounded approach using a wide range of strategies to improve school attendance. KCC adheres to a support first approach as outlined in the Department for Education’s ‘Working together to improve school attendance’ guidance published in May 2022.