New research to look at in-school approaches to combat pupil exclusion and improve attendance

Press Release

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Persistent absenteeism and exclusion from school are known to have a severe negative impact on the long-term outcomes of young people, affecting their education attainment as well as their likelihood of becoming involved in violence.

Schools are increasingly taking action to address this issue, and we understand that they are using different approaches to prevent/reduce persistent absence and exclusion, including in a pupil support unit or through internal alternative provision.

However, there is limited knowledge on the approaches being used and whether they are effective in reducing absence and exclusions.

A new NFER led study, in partnership with The Difference, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF), aims to gain insights into what secondary schools in England are doing in this area and then potentially identify the impact of different approaches. The study starts with a scoping stage comprising expert interviews, school case studies and a national survey of secondary schools. If this stage is successful in identifying distinct approaches, the research team plans to design an impact evaluation using data from the scoping stage.

Caroline Sharp, Research Director at NFER, who is leading the study said:

“Although reducing pupil exclusion and improving attendance are both key areas of focus for the DfE, there is little evidence on the range and effectiveness of support being offered by secondary schools across the country. This project provides us with the opportunity to address this, by working with schools to find out what they are practically doing to support children who are most at risk of exclusion. These young people are often the most vulnerable and we want to identify the range of activities available to help keep them within a mainstream school environment.

“We are delighted to be working alongside The Difference on this crucial piece of work. Their expertise and knowledge in this area will enable us to look further at the range of support secondary schools are providing, which can be of real practical help to other schools in similar positions.”

The findings from the scoping phase are expected to be published by the EEF in spring 2024.