Pupil absence





The Children, Young People and Education Committee held a short inquiry on pupil absence from schools.


The Committee has published its written report (PDF 1.5MB)


On the 5 January the Committee received a response (PDF 152KB) to the report from the Welsh Government. A plenary debate took place on Wednesday 8 February 2023.


Background to the inquiry

The issues of pupil absence and the impact on children and young people’s learning and wider well-being was raised with the Committee during annual scrutiny of Estyn in December 2021. As a result of this session, the Committee wrote (PDF 237KB) to all local authorities asking for information on how they work with schools to monitor and improve attendance; and for any date they hold on numbers and absence rates. In total, 15 local authorities responded. All the responses received can be viewed under the documents heading below.

At the Committee’s meeting on 31 March, the Committee agreed to do a short focused inquiry on pupil attendance. 

The Committee wrote to the Minister for Education and Welsh Language seeking an update on the review he has commissioned on attendance patterns. A response (PDF 2MB) was received on 25 April.  

Terms of Reference

This inquiry focused on the issue of absenteeism of pupils registered at maintained schools and pupil referral units. The inquiry looked specifically at:

  • Reasons for and levels of persistent absenteeism
  • Whether and if so, why, non-covid related absenteeism is higher than prior to the COVID 19 pandemic
  • Whether and if so, reasons why persistent absenteeism is more prevalent among particular groups of pupils (those with Additional Leaning Needs, eligible for free school meals, boys and girls, specific age groups, ethnicity)
  • The short term and longer-term risks and consequences for learners for example in terms of mental health and well-being
  • The impact on pupils’ learning and attainment
  • Whether absenteeism has resulted in a higher level of pupil de-registration and any cross-over with elective home education
  • Effectiveness of existing Welsh Government policies and guidance
  • Level and effectiveness of action and support from schools, local government and the Welsh Government
  • How effectively parents are engaged and supported



Evidence gathering

Committee took evidence in May and June 2022. More information on the evidence sessions can be found under the meetings tab at the top of the page


The Committee launched a call for written evidence on 09 May 2022. The consultation closed on 20 June 2022. All responses have been published.

In addition to the online consultation, the Committee’s Citizen Engagement Team held 5 focus groups and 7 interviews between 24th May and 9th June with a range of parents, young people and some staff in different areas of Wales. One individual and one group also provided comments via email. A summary (PDF 234KB) of the emerging themes was produced.

Business type:

First published: 12/04/2022