“The fundamental response to pupil absence is a human one (relational) through the provision of compassionate attendance support”.

Alex Jones – Director, Attendance Plus

Compassion is fundamental to human relatedness with origins in infancy and attachment – compassion is essential for growth and development.

Find out why compassion is the foundation stone to our attendance support.

Basis for compassionate attendance support

The biological basis for compassion is linked to the primary relationship between infant and caregiver, compassion being an essential component to facilitate growth and development. Extending this to other areas of human relatedness, compassion helps enter the prism of another’s view, to understand their circumstance, context and need. To take this further, compassion can propel understanding into action (e.g. to help a person’s situation).

Applying a compassionate approach to pupil absence

By applying a compassionate approach to pupil absence, the attendance practitioner has opportunity to enter the prism of the child or young person’s view. It is important to enter this from an unbiased position. This allows for the discrepancy between the imagined child (e.g. ideas conjured from the referral, or, how the parent/carer has provided reason for absence) and the living presence with them; the practitioner is able to stay open to the child’s uniqueness and difficulties as experienced, felt and described by them (to understand their ascertainable wishes and feelings).

Difficulties that require being open

Some difficulties that underlie reasons for absences can be children and young people living in poverty, relationship difficulties (at home or at school), issues in relation to mental health & wellbeing, and experiencing trauma (e.g. related to violence, relationships and loss). These many possibilities require the attendance practitioner to be open, to listen, understand and respond with meaningful support.

Tenets for compassionate support
  • Seeks to understand the pupil absence in context of the child’s own world e.g. family, friends, peers, school and wider relations.
  • Is child-centred in context of needing to hear the child’s voice, to understand their wishes and feelings, and to make support personal and relevant to them.
  • Seeks to understand areas that might present barriers to attending school e.g. educational difficulties, physical and mental health, disability, family history and educational experience, other factors (e.g. employment, wordlessness, housing, relationships).
  • Brokers multi-agency support to remove/mitigate the psychosocial determinants of pupil absence (e.g. parental health, housing and economic difficulties).
  • Suspends prejudgements about the absence circumstance e.g. prescriptive notions about the causes and reasons for the absence.
  • Incorporates professional supervision to challenge preconceptions, projections and prejudices about the absence circumstance.
  • In context of mobilising change, uses professional supervision to think about potential blocking factors related to the pupil absence.
  • Works procedurally (founded on evidence of ‘what works’) in context of achieving the desired outcomes e.g. improved attendance and educational experience.
  • Provides a ‘lead professional’ caring role to engender trust and confidence to make change more probable and achievable.
  • Always considers the potential safeguarding needs of children, young people and/or others (e.g vulnerable adults).