Soaring truancy rates at schools are partly down to ‘parents working from home who are ignoring their obligations to get kids to go to school’, leading charity warns
- UK employees spend an average of 1.5 days a week logged in from the study
Soaring truancy rates since the pandemic are partly down to parents working from home, the head of a leading social mobility charity warned yesterday.
Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust, said the country needed to have ‘an honest conversation’ about how the rise of remote working since coronavirus hit had ‘affected the obligation parents feel about getting their kids to go to school’.
‘We must look at ways to get more workers back into offices – where, in my opinion, they belong – and, by extension, encourage them to re-appraise their commitment to getting their children into school,’ he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.
Nearly a quarter of pupils (22.3 per cent) were estimated to be ‘persistently absent’ in 2022-23 – defined as missing 10 per cent or more of their school days – according to the Department for Education.
Some children reported that they weren’t attending lessons because ‘mum and dad are at home’ (stock photo)
Before the pandemic, the level was just over one in ten.
In March, Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said the figures included a ‘huge amount of Friday absence’, with some children reporting that they weren’t attending lessons because ‘mum and dad are at home’.
Sir Peter, who has spent more than £50million of his own fortune expanding social mobility, said he agreed that working from home was partly to blame.
‘Firstly, we need to look at working from home – and to have an honest conversation about how the ease of moving your working day from the office to your kitchen table has, inevitably, affected the obligation parents feel about getting their kids to go to school,’ he wrote. ‘There’s no ignoring the link.’
Britain is the working from home capital of Europe, according to figures released in July.
UK employees spend an average of 1.5 days a week logged in from the study, the dining table or the patio – compared to an international average of 0.9 days.
However, a survey of nearly 15,000 white-collar workers and employers across Britain by recruitment agency Hays ((CRCT)) Plc found that about 43 per cent of staff worked entirely from the office between August and September, down from 36 per cent during the same period last year, Forbes reported.
A report in September by consultancy Public First said there had been a ‘seismic shift’ in parents’ attitudes to school attendance since pre-Covid, with it now ‘socially acceptable’ to keep pupils at home and go on holiday in term-time.
ys a week logged in from the study, the dining table or the patio – compared to an international average of 0.9 days (stock photo)
But it did not find evidence of a link to parents working from home, instead highlighting issues such as anxiety, teacher strikes and the cost of living crisis.
In his article, Sir Peter agreed that the reasons for rocketing school absence were complex.
The closure of schools for months on end during the pandemic had made it ‘harder to make the case to parents that a missed day of school here and there really matters,’ he wrote.
Other factors were a ‘deeply worrying’ rise in mental health problems among young people, plus struggling parents whose number one concern was ‘where the next meal is coming from’.
But he warned the issue had ‘huge implications for social mobility’, with the poorest pupils missing the most lessons, limiting ‘their results and their life chances’.
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