Language and ethnicity are key risk factors relating to school absence.

Key policy changes are needed to address absences among pupils who use English as an Additional Language (EAL), including:

  • Guidance should be issued by the Department for Education to schools on integrating EAL pupils into the mainstream, the importance of assessing proficiency in English, and effective communication with parents and caregivers who use EAL.
  • Statutory assessment of English language proficiency should be reintroduced in England.
  • Improved data should monitor need, identify trends, and follow outcomes.
  • Focus is needed on EAL pupils with high needs who arrive in Key Stage 4, including the development of provision in schools and/or colleges that enables these EAL pupils to access a wide curriculum of GCSEs.
  • CPD for teachers (from initial teacher training through to early career training and onwards) in supporting multilingual pupils in the classroom.

This briefing is based on the Foundation's evidence to the 2023 Education Select Committee's inquiry on persistent absence and support for disadvantaged pupils.