DfE hiring up to 8 more advisers to oversee attendance push

A handful of councils alone have slashed more attendance staff than the DfE plans to recruit

A handful of councils alone have slashed more attendance staff than the DfE plans to recruit

24 May 2022, 12:02

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The Department for Education will hire up to eight new advisers as part of its drive to improve attendance support offered by councils, academy trusts and schools.

The move will only increase the size of its squad of advisers to 13 at most however, after a decade-long squeeze on budgets that saw many local authority attendance jobs axed.

Two councils alone, Salford and Brighton and Hove, announced 14 posts would be slashed in the early 2010s.

The government set out prescriptive new minimum national standards for council, trust and school attendance policies and support earlier this month. Ministers had dubbed councils’ varied current approaches a “postcode lottery”, with some areas issuing far more fines than others.

From September, councils will have to “rigorously track” attendance data, and support all schools free with communication, advice, termly support meetings, multi-disciplinary support and legal intervention. Monitoring attendance of children with social workers is expected too.

The DfE claims only one in 20 councils is currently meeting the new standards.

Official documents released on Monday show it is now offering a £350,000 contract to expand the team of five central advisers created last year. Between three and six new staff will receive £500 a day to “help LAs, specifically, to implement the expectations in the new guidance” over the next two years.

They will support councils to review and develop attendance strategies and data, consider how best to use staff and resources, ensure attendance is considered “across all relevant services”, and build strong links with schools, families and other partners.

They may also hold regional meetings of councils to “discuss their practice”.

Another one or two advisers will be hired to work specifically with multi-academy trusts and schools to “review their current approach to tackling persistent absence”. This will include helping them develop a “whole school culture of excellent attendance.”

Documents do not state how it will decided which councils, schools and trusts receive support, but the government would “particularly welcome” applicants able to work in London, the south-east, the east of England, the north, and north-west.

Each trust, council or school will receive between two and 10 days of support.

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