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School staffs’ experiences of supporting children with school attendance difficulties in primary school: a qualitative study

Cunningham, A., Harvey, K. ORCID: and Waite, P. ORCID: (2022) School staffs’ experiences of supporting children with school attendance difficulties in primary school: a qualitative study. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 27 (1). pp. 72-87. ISSN 1363-2752

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/13632752.2022.2067704


Children’s absence from primary school is associated with lower attainment and social difficulties, and persistent absence at this age often continues or worsens as children progress into secondary education. It is therefore important to intervene early in order to interrupt this negative trajectory. The current study aims to explore primary school staffs’ views and experiences of supporting children with school attendance difficulties. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight members of staff who had experience of supporting children with difficulty regularly attending school, from both mainstream and special primary schools in England. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. School staff perceive school non-attendance to be a complex issue that can be caused and maintained by multiple factors related to the child, the family and the school/education. Although the emotional impact for school staff is variable, it is clear that it is a challenge for school staff to manage and can have a significant negative impact. Study participants believe prevention to be key and identify a range of different social/emotional and learning-focused interventions that they have used to support children to attend school regularly, with varying degrees of success. Participants emphasise how the success of any intervention relies strongly on collaboration between parents, school staff and other agencies involved. The findings from this study suggest that sufficient resource, early intervention, the development of a school community, collaboration with families, the involvement of other professionals and targeted evidence-based strategies are all important in improving attendance in this age range.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Anxiety and Depression in Young People (AnDY)
ID Code:104306
Publisher:Taylor and Francis


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