Schools with high absences that can demonstrate they are doing “all they reasonably can” to raise attendance will be judged “favourably” during inspections, Ofsted has said.
The watchdog has published a blog post that aims to clarify its position on attendance, as higher levels persist post-pandemic.
Government data shows 22.3 per cent of pupils missed more than one in ten sessions last year. The overall absence was 7.2 per cent in the week-starting October 16, much higher than pre-pandemic norms.
Ofsted said it remained “very concerned about the effect this will have on children”.
The inspectorate said schools “have a vital role in improving attendance but not all factors influencing attendance are in their control”.
Because of this, “there cannot be an arbitrary attendance percentage that all schools need to reach”.
But it added that many factors were within schools’ powers, “and it is right to expect them to do all they reasonably can to achieve the highest possible attendance”.
“If a school can demonstrate they are doing this, we will judge it favourably, even if its attendance numbers are lower than previously.”
Schools would “need to demonstrate they are moving towards pre-pandemic levels of attendance or higher, even if they remain a distance away from their overall ambition”.
“However, if a school is not doing all that can reasonably be expected, we may still have concerns.”
Ofsted also pointed out that the highest attendance rates were linked with the best outcomes at all key stages.
“Even missing small amounts of education can mean a child misses important sections of the curriculum and may therefore struggle to learn concepts that are built on what they missed.
“It’s not just about the academic opportunities. There’s value in the whole school experience.”