According to a charity, inadequate housing in England is a rising barrier to students attending school

Exclusive: According to School-Home Support, the percentage of kids expressing these worries has increased 73% year over year.

An education organisation that works with consistently missing students and their families to increase school attendance in England claims that unstable, inadequate, and subpar housing is becoming a greater obstacle to children attending school.

19% of the students with whom School-Home Support (SHS) works see their home environment as a significant impediment to attending school. SHS seeks to address the underlying causes of high absence rates by fostering whole-family support.

The data comes at a time when ministers, legislators, and school administrators are implementing programmes to attempt to get kids back in class as they become more concerned about greater absentee rates in many schools in England since the Covid outbreak.

According to SHS, which says housing is now one of the top three challenges for students it helps, the percentage of kids identifying housing worries as a barrier to attendance increased from 11% last year to 19% this academic year, a 73% rise.

The other two were confidence and self-esteem, mentioned by 25% of respondents, and feelings and behaviour, mentioned by 27% of respondents. The information comes from a group of 383 young people with whom the organisation worked in the academic periods of 2022–2023 (fall and spring).

It works with kids whose families may have been compelled to relocate into temporary housing or an emergency refuge for their own safety and are now unexpectedly far from school.

According to the organisation, it might be difficult for students to engage with their studies and regularly attend school when they live in unsuitable housing or subpar housing with no area for them to study or complete their homework.

According to attendance statistics provided by the Department for Education (DfE), absences during the spring semester of this year were still 50% higher than they were prior to the pandemic, and in 2021–22, more than one in five secondary students were "persistently absent," meaning they missed 10% or more of their scheduled classes.

Since the Covid epidemic, there has been a surge in the number of children missing school, with some kids finding it difficult to leave the house due to increased anxiety and a lack of mental health resources.

Ben (not his real name) and his mother were residing in a sanctuary following a domestic abuse incident in one SHS case study. Ben missed one out of five lessons each week since the sanctuary was miles distant from his place of education and his mother could not afford the daily bus cost.

The family was sent to SHS, who assisted them in obtaining council housing. Ben was urged by his support worker to join the school's homework club in order to make up for missed lessons, and as a result, his attendance increased.

Jaine Stannard, the chief executive officer of SHS, praised recent government initiatives to increase attendance but insisted that schools needed dedicated funds to offer pastoral and academic catch-up support to students who were having trouble focusing.

"Our goal is to increase attendance, but when practitioners begin working with a family, their first concern is to learn more about their circumstances and explore any impediments to learning.

"If you are staying in temporary housing far from school or if you spent the previous night in a car, it ought to be the main topic of discussion. There are no easy solutions. Attendance-related discussions can be had at a later time. We can stop problems from getting worse by addressing the underlying causes of poor attendance as soon as possible.

A spokeswoman for the government stated that "schools, trusts, and local authorities should always work together with other local partners to understand the barriers to attendance and provide support for families where needed."

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