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School staffs’ experiences of supporting children with school attendance difficulties in primary school: a qualitative study
Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties  (IF),  Pub Date : 2022-05-01, DOI: 10.1080/13632752.2022.2067704
Amethyst Cunningham, Kate Harvey, Polly Waite

ABSTRACT

Children’s absence from primary school is associated with lower attainment and social difficulties, and persistent absence at this age often continues or worsens as children progress into secondary education. It is therefore important to intervene early to interrupt this negative trajectory. This study used individual semi-structured interviews to explore the perspectives of eight members of primary school staff, who had experience supporting children with difficulty regularly attending school, from both mainstream and special primary schools in England. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Participants perceive school non-attendance to be a complex and challenging issue that can have a significant negative impact, and can be caused and maintained by multiple factors related to the child, family and school/education. Participants believe prevention is key and identify several different social/emotional and learning-focused interventions they have used to support children to attend school regularly, with varying degrees of success. Participants emphasise that success of any intervention relies strongly on collaboration between parents, school staff and other agencies involved. Findings from this study suggest that sufficient resource, early intervention, development of a school community, collaboration with families, liaison with other professionals and targeted evidence-based strategies are all important in improving attendance in this age range.