Evidence regarding pupil absence and achievement

Luke Bunger made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Department for Education

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Mae'r ymateb i'r cais hwn yn hwyr iawn. Yn ôl y gyfraith, ym mhob amgylchiad, dylai Department for Education fod wedi ymateb erbyn hyn. (manylion). Gallwch gwyno drwy yn gofyn am adolygiad mewnol.

Dear Department for Education,

According to a recent BBC article, you have claimed that "The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances - vindicating our strong stance on attendance." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-3674...)

Unfortunately, you have not provided your evidence of this.

I am aware that in previous FOI requests (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/i...) you have compared children with less than 4 percent absence to those with between 20 per cent and 30 percent, however you do not prove a causal link between, as you claim, missed days of school and achievement. Indeed, it is equally possible that children with lower academic abilities are less likely to want to go to school, and in fact, higher absence is caused by lower achievement, not the other way around. Additionally, these statistics misrepresent the nature of family holidays, with a one week (5 day) family holiday represents only 2% of school days missed. For the 30% figures you state to be relevant, families would need to be taking more than 6 weeks of holiday during term time.

What evidence do you have that shows a CAUSAL LINK between absence due to family holiday and achievement? On what basis do you claim that "The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chances of achieving good GCSEs" as if there is no evidence of a causal link, there is no evidence at all. Therefore, if you cannot provide evidence of a causal link will you issue a retraction of these inaccurate statements?

Yours faithfully,
Luke Hughes-Bunger

Dear Department for Education,

Please note, that my initial calculations were incorrect, in fact, 30% is more than 11 weeks of school missed, the lower 20% figure represents nearly 8 weeks. 6 weeks represents approximately only 15% of the school year, and indeed, parents could legitimately take 2 weeks holiday, with no other absences throughout the year, and come in at the approx. 4% you claim as the threshold for good achievement.

Yours faithfully,

Luke Hughes-Bunger

Department for Education

Dear Mr Hughes-Bunger, [FOI #344742 email]<mailto:[FOI #344742 email]>
RE: Case reference 2016-0033424
Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 11 July 2016. You requested:
“According to a recent BBC article, you have claimed that "The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances - vindicating our strong stance on attendance." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-3674...)
Unfortunately, you have not provided your evidence of this.
I am aware that in previous FOI requests (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/i...) you have compared children with less than 4 percent absence to those with between 20 per cent and 30 percent, however you do not prove a causal link between, as you claim, missed days of school and achievement. Indeed, it is equally possible that children with lower academic abilities are less likely to want to go to school, and in fact, higher absence is caused by lower achievement, not the other way around. Additionally, these statistics misrepresent the nature of family holidays, with a one week (5 day) family holiday represents only 2% of school days missed. For the 30% figures you state to be relevant, families would need to be taking more than 6 weeks of holiday during term time.
What evidence do you have that shows a CAUSAL LINK between absence due to family holiday and achievement? On what basis do you claim that "The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chances of achieving good GCSEs" as if there is no evidence of a causal link, there is no evidence at all. Therefore, if you cannot provide evidence of a causal link will you issue a retraction of these inaccurate statements?”
Followed up with your additional email:
“Please note, that my initial calculations were incorrect, in fact, 30% is more than 11 weeks of school missed, the lower 20% figure represents nearly 8 weeks. 6 weeks represents approximately only 15% of the school year, and indeed, parents could legitimately take 2 weeks holiday, with no other absences throughout the year, and come in at the approx. 4% you claim as the threshold for good achievement.”
I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Under section 21 of the Act, the Department is not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you.
Information on the link between absence and attainment at key stages 2 and 4 was published in the “Absence and attainment at key stages 2 and 4: 2013 to 2014” research report, published March 2016 and available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio....
The analysis of the link between overall absence and attainment when taking prior attainment and pupil characteristics into account showed that, for each KS2 and KS4 measure, overall absence had a statistically significant negative link to attainment – i.e. every extra day missed was associated with a lower attainment outcome.
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Most documents produced by a government department or agency will be protected by Crown Copyright. Most Crown copyright information can be re-used under the Open Government Licence (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...). For information about the OGL and about re-using Crown Copyright information please see The National Archives website -http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/infor... .
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.
If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you should make a complaint to the Department by writing to me within two calendar months of the date of this letter. Your complaint will be considered by an independent review panel, who were not involved in the original consideration of your request.
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint to the Department, you may then contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Yours sincerely,
School absence and exclusions team
Education Standards Evidence and Dissemination Division