Major drive to improve school attendance in Yorkshire and the Humber

8 January 2024
  • Attendance hubs to more than double to support 1000 more schools reaching 1 million pupils to boost their attendance with two already in Grimsby
  • £15 million investment to expand the attendance mentor pilot programme, which already runs in Doncaster, over the next three years to help families with children struggling to attend school
  • National marketing campaign to parents on the importance of attendance to help drive attendance improvements

Driving up attendance and tackling persistent absence is at the centre of new stronger measures launched today as pupils return to school.

More than one million children and young people will be supported into regular education as part of a major expansion of the attendance hubs, which have already provided a range of tailored support to 400,000 pupils and their families to boost time in school since the programme’s launch.

There will be 18 new attendance hubs, including one in Wolverhampton, bringing the total to two in the West Midlands and 32 nationally which will see nearly 2,000 schools helped to tackle persistent absence.

John Whitgift Academy and the Willows and Park Academy are two existing attendance hubs in Grimsby.



Hubs are run by schools with excellent attendance that share practical ideas with other primary, secondary, alternative provision and special schools across England who need help to boost their attendance.

From direct pupil engagement initiatives like breakfast clubs and extracurricular activities, to improving their processes and analysis of attendance data, lead hub schools provide a range of support to schools that they can tailor to their pupils and families.

The government is also increasing the direct support offered to children and their families with the expansion of the attendance mentor pilot programme. The programme with Barnardo’s already runs in Doncaster along with Middlesbrough, Knowsley, Salford and Stoke on Trent.

With an investment of up to £15million, over three years, this programme will provide direct intensive support to more than 10,000 persistent and severely absent pupils and their families. The programme will see trained attendance mentors working in 10 further areas from September 2024.

The programme provides intensive one-to-one support to pupils who are persistently absent working with them and their families to find out why the child is skipping school. This can lead to extra support, more intensive work with teachers or in some cases bridge-building between school and family.

Letters have also been sent to schools which saw significant improvements in their attendance across England, including 11 in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Being in school has never been more valuable with standards continuing to rise. 89% of schools are now rated good or outstanding up from 68% in 2010. We are constantly seeing the success of our reforms rising up the rankings in maths, reading and science. Just this month, England was ranked 11th in the world for maths, up from 27th in 2009, and in May, England was named ‘best in the west’ for primary reading.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:

The benefits of our success in raising education standards can only be when all children are in school.

Tackling attendance is my number one priority. We want all our children to have the best start in life because we know that attending school is vital to a child’s wellbeing, development, and attainment as well as impact future career success.

I am hugely grateful to all our brilliant teachers, heads, and everyone whose worked with us to make the progress we’ve already made with 380,000 fewer children persistently absent.


Children’s Commissioner Rachel De Souza said:

As Children’s Commissioner, I have made school attendance one of my top priorities because children tell me how much they value their education and want to be in school. Every day counts: when children miss school, it’s not just about missing lessons, it’s also about losing valuable moments spent with their friends and teachers.

I very much welcome the government’s announcements today which include the recommendations made last year in my report on school attendance.

I am hopeful that these measures will arm local authorities and schools with real-time information about school absence rates and provide vital support for children who face barriers to attending school.


A national communications campaign on the importance of attendance is also launching today (8 January) targeting parents and carers. Under the strapline ‘Moments Matter, Attendance Counts’ it outlines the importance of attendance for attainment, wellbeing, and development as well as signposting to advice for further support.


Key advice includes a recent letter from the Chief Medical Officer that outlines best practice when it comes to attendance and illness. The intention is to ensure that parents have the guidance they need when it comes to making decisions when deciding to send their child to school or when to keep them home.


The government has also committed to further legislation in the coming months that will mean all schools will be required to share their daily school registers. This, together with reforming pupil registration practice, will modernise how schools record and share data on attendance and support them to understand what is driving absence in their school and provide early support and intervention where pupils are displaying worrying trends of absence.

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