Social workers have been instrumental in explaining the benefits of attending school, college and other educational settings to children, young people and their families, and the Department acknowledges their ongoing support in maintaining children with a social worker’s attendance.
As set out in the Schools Coronavirus Operational Guidance , from 8 March all pupils should attend school.
We have asked schools to notify social workers if a child with a social worker is asked to self-isolate so that the social worker and school leaders can agree the best way to maintain contact and offer support to that child or young person.
It is recommended that conversations on attendance between social workers and children, young people and their families focus on:
- explaining that regular school attendance is vital for children’s educational progress, wellbeing, and wider development.
- identifying children and young people who are reluctant or anxious about being in school or who are at risk of disengagement. This may include children and young people living in households where someone is clinically vulnerable, or those concerned about the comparatively increased risk from coronavirus (COVID-19), including those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds or who have certain conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
- developing plans for re-engaging them, including by working closely with wider support services.
Where appropriate, and in line with your local guidance, child in need and child protection plans may be used to identify barriers to attendance and set out actions for addressing them, including outlining the role of schools and wider services.
For looked after children, Virtual School Heads should ensure Personal Education Plans (PEPs) identify and address any barriers to attendance. Virtual School Heads will work together with social workers, Designated Teachers and care givers to address those barriers and support good attendance.