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Durham e-Theses
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A study of school attendance and exclusions in secondary schools in England

ALABBAD, HAIFAA,JAWAD,M (2020) A study of school attendance and exclusions in secondary schools in England. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This study explores the links between school attendance, exclusions, and subsequent academic attainment at age 16 in mainstream schools in England. For this research, school attendance is defined as school-aged children attending school regularly. School exclusion is the removal of school-aged children from school either for fixed terms or permanently. Academic attainment for this research refers to the final exam results at the end of Key Stages 2, 3, and 4.
Three different approaches were used. A detailed longitudinal approach, modelling the course of one age cohort of 554,145 pupils from the National Pupil Database (NPD), through their entire schooling to the age of 16 in different analytical steps using cross-tabulations, ‘effect’ sizes, correlations, and regression models. The analysis draws on secondary data in which indicators from the NPD were included to explain the outcomes. The main outcomes were the school attendance rate, exclusion pattern, and academic attainment for Key Stage 4. A systematic review was conducted of the evidence published over the last 20 years on school attendance interventions that have targeted disadvantaged pupils. This began by rating the obtained evidence from the included studies, following a well-developed sieve to judge the quality of evidence. The subsequent descriptive analysis includes a description of the included studies. The included interventions were also described in terms of their implementation protocols and categorised into financial interventions, counselling and mentoring, out of school educational programmes, health, school reforms, parental involvement, and school engagement for the disadvantaged children. Following this, the evidence obtained from these studies was complemented through semi-structured interviews with 10 primary and secondary school teachers that have lengthy experience of dealing with school attendance challenges.
The robust analysis of the NPD showed that eligibility for Free School Meals (FSM), a measure of poverty, is the main predictor of school attendance, exclusions, and academic attainment. Prior academic attainment (KS2 and KS3 Maths and English attainment) are more strongly associated with academic attainment at KS4 (GCSEs results) than school attendance. The interview results confirmed this finding. The review results suggest that financial interventions that support parents of disadvantaged children with regular stipends could promote school attendance among the disadvantaged.
The findings of this study entail a number of implications for policy and practice. Addressing the needs of disadvantaged groups of pupils through effective interventions, including regular cash payments to parents or carers, could promote the school attendance of these pupils and inspire their families to become more engaged with their children’s education, thereby enhancing their academic attainment. In terms of school exclusions, the current school data seems ineffective in illustrating the issue of school exclusions. Therefore, school exclusions data should be developed in a way that enables researchers to investigate the possible gaps in how schools conceive and implement exclusions.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:School attendance, school exclusion, academic attainment
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Feb 2020 08:40

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