CHILDLINE: Missing school could also be an indicator of broader child protection concerns

Childline counsellors often speak to young people who are missing school through experiencing issues in class.Childline counsellors often speak to young people who are missing school through experiencing issues in class.
Childline counsellors often speak to young people who are missing school through experiencing issues in class.
Education is a vital part of giving children the best start in life. As well as making friends and gaining knowledge, going to school is also a hugely important part of safeguarding.

If children miss school, teachers are less able to spot when something might be wrong or offer them support. Missing school could also be an indicator of broader child protection concerns.

The number of children who are persistently absent from school has risen in the years since the pandemic.

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Persistent absence is a term used to describe children who miss 10% or more of possible school sessions.

In 2022-23, around 21% of pupils were persistently absent from schools in England.

There are many reasons a child could be absent from school, and some groups of children are more likely to be absent than others. Young people with special educational needs, or those with mental health problems and young carers, for example.

Young people have told us they missed school through illness, stress and undiagnosed needs.

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They feared the ease with which children can become stressed and overwhelmed by pressures at school was more common than adults realised.

Childline counsellors often speak to young people who are skipping school or are experiencing issues in class.

Sometimes, the issues are medical or health-related, but more often our counsellors hear about bullying, anxiety or other mental health issues that impact school performance.

It’s important to listen to children about why they might be missing school and work together with them to develop the best solution for them.

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But we also need to ensure children know where to go for help if they’re having issues.

That could mean speaking to a family member or teacher, but our Childline counsellors are available 24 hours a day to offer confidential support and guidance.

We would encourage anyone worried about a child to check in with them and, if necessary, speak to someone like the NSPCC Helpline about it.

Your voice could be the one that helps a child or their family get the help they need.

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