As the Department for Education update their statutory guidance on Keeping children safe in education (1st September 2021), training provider’s will be updating their staff to make sure that they understand their obligations and legal duties, particularly those described in Part 1.

As young people return to college and training, with Covid cases still significant in the community, staff can easily assume poor attendance is related to Covid cases at home or with contacts.  But staff can’t afford to be complacent in their thinking as the poor attendance could be linked to a range of safeguarding issues.  Keeping Children safe in Education (Part one) states:

Children missing from education

All staff should be aware that children going missing, particularly repeatedly, can act as a vital warning sign of a range of safeguarding possibilities. This may include abuse and neglect, which may include sexual abuse or exploitation and can also be a sign of child criminal exploitation including involvement in county lines. It may indicate mental health problems, risk of substance abuse, risk of travelling to conflict zones, risk of female genital mutilation, ‘honour’-based abuse, or risk of forced marriage. Early intervention is necessary to identify the existence of any underlying safeguarding risk and to help prevent the risks of a child going missing in future. Staff should be aware of their school’s or college’s unauthorised absence and children missing from education procedures.

Are there any patterns of poor attendance for some young people?

Colleges and training providers are acutely aware that safeguarding can be a limiting grade at inspection for good reason.  Some questions you may wish to consider:

  1. Do you have an easy-to-use notification system for absences?
  2. Can you easily and quickly identify anyone absent without notification for every session of the day so that the learner can be followed up quickly?
  3. Do you have tools that allow you to analyse and drill down on groups and individual learners to understand patterns of attendance and absence?
  4. Is anyone in your organisation checking absences and their reasons regularly to be able to put support measures in place and address any safeguarding concerns?

For eNotify users

The good news is that you can track Covid absence separately from other reasons by updating the absence categories.  Some training providers have opted for more than one category to help easy reporting such as “Covid 19 Positive Test” and “Covid 19 Self Isolating”.  To manage all types of absences, dedicated ‘follow up’ categories ensure no learner slips through the net and could be a trigger to refer to the Covid tuition fund if applicable.  Using these simple steps, you can measure and analyse the impact of all absence types, including Covid 19 which may have an effect in individual learner attendance and ultimately success.

For more information, the Keeping Children Safe in Education (update 1st September 2021) is available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1020050/KCSIE_2021_September_guidance.pdf