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Response to Estyn’s report on secondary school attendance

Commenting on Estyn’s Improving attendance in secondary schools report, published on 18 January 2024, Children’s Commissioner for Wales Rocio Cifuentes said:

“This report makes for sobering reading and confirms the very many complex challenges facing young people in Wales today, from mental health and additional learning needs to the cost of transport.

“Poverty has a significant and wide-ranging impact on young people’s lives. Sadly, it’s no surprise that Estyn’s report highlights that young people from lower income backgrounds have lower rates of attendance than young people from more affluent homes. Effectively targeting support at children living in poverty should be a vital aspect of efforts to boost attendance, which I hope to see featured in Welsh Government’s revised child poverty strategy due imminently. I particularly welcome the report’s suggestion that reviewing school transport rules could play an important part – the distance some young people have to travel to school independently while their families struggle to make ends meet can be a significant barrier. I hope the report’s recommendations are heeded by Government without delay.”