Bishop of St Albans asks about safeguarding absent schoolchildren

The Bishop of St Albans asked about potential safeguarding issues for children persistently absent from school, and support for local social services working to identify these children, during a debate on persistent absences on 2nd May 2023:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, this has the potential to be a major safeguarding issue, which many professionals are concerned about. What are His Majesty’s Government doing to help schools work with local social services teams to ensure that we have identified who these children are, that their risk is assessed and that they are given the proper support that they need?

Baroness Barran (Con, Department for Education): There is a safeguarding risk, but there is also a danger of conflating different groups of children. Of those who are persistently absent—those who miss 10% or more of sessions in school—the vast majority have authorised absence for sickness reasons. However, the right reverend Prelate is right that we need to focus on particularly vulnerable children; we have set out new guidance with expectations that local authorities should have termly targeted support meetings with schools to put together a plan for exactly the sort of pupil to which the right reverend Prelate refers.


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