Not in school: The mental health barriers to school attendance

This new report from the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition and Centre for Mental Health explores the drivers of school absence, including the links with mental health, and the measures that can be taken to improve school attendance.

Not in school: The mental health barriers to school attendance is based on a rapid review of current government policy and initiatives and the evidence base.

The report finds that while attendance is often perceived through a single lens, wider barriers impact school attendance. Groups of children and young people, such as those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), those living in poverty, those experience bullying or racism, young carers and care experienced children, can be disproportionately impacted by both school absence and mental health problems.

While some current government initiatives have been impactful on an individual pupil or family basis many of the approaches fail to adequately account for the wider determinants of school absence. The report recommends change across four areas:

  1. Improving attendance measures
  2. Implementing a whole education approach
  3. Developing wider system support
  4. Addressing the underlying causes

You can read more about our findings by downloading the documents below:

Zainab Shafan-Azhar and Bethan Bottomley