Attendance rates in Wales have not recovered since COVID-19, and the publication of statistics on absence from Secondary Schools 2022/23 is a stark reminder of the continuing impact on children and young people. 

The Welsh Government commissioned Parentkind to undertake research amongst parents and carers in Wales with a child with attendance issues to understand more about the reasons for their absences, the support offered, and what help their family would find useful.

2,616 parents completed the survey in total, 654 of which were from parents with a child who has had more than 20 days’ absence in a school year (excluding when schools were closed due to the pandemic) – our definition of poor attendance.

A lot of hard work and effort by school staff and others has already gone into re-engaging and supporting learners following the pandemic and continues to take place in all parts of Wales.

Some of the actions taken so far include:

  • The Renew and Reform plan outlined their commitment to supporting learners’ wellbeing and progression in response to the pandemic, putting learners’ physical and mental health and wellbeing at the heart of its approach and investing nearly £500 million in 2020–21 and 2021–22.
  • In 2022–23, additional funding included £3.5 million to support attendance in schools, with a particular focus on encouraging learners who have become disengaged from learning following the pandemic or who were at risk of disengaging.
  • The Recruit, Recover and Raise Standards programme has recruited and retained over 1,800 full-time equivalent staff to boost capacity and capability to support learners, with schools given the flexibility to use the funding to address their particular challenges and needs.
  • An investment of £2.5 million into the education welfare service this year to provide much-needed additional capacity.
  • The Parentkind attendance report, which marks what will be the start of a national conversation with parents about the challenges they are facing and provides an all-important opportunity for parents to participate in the development of solutions.