Local authority ensures education for 93 absent pupils

Somerset County Council’s AV1 robots help unwell students stay in school.

522,000 children were persistently absent from school in 2021. Reasons for absence include physical illness (such as cancer), anxiety and chronic health conditions.

AV1 is a tool designed specifically for students in these circumstances. It is a robot that connects pupils to their classroom and peers. In 2021, users of AV1 robots took part in 27,000 school days globally, and around 725 are used in the UK.

A pupil's access to AV1 relies on their school embracing it. Funding, however, often lies with the local authority, with 40 councils now offering AV1 in their education services.

Owning 50 robots, Somerset County Council is the largest local authority AV1 project. Their new report, released March 2022, assesses its impact on students and schools in their region.

Headline findings from the report include:

  • 93 children and young people have used the AV1 robots to date.

  • 65 schools have requested an AV1 to support their pupils.

  • Mental health, particularly severe anxiety, is the most common reason for requiring an AV1.

  • The next most common reasons are complex health needs (such as life limiting conditions and recovering from surgery), chronic fatigue syndrome and cancer.

  • The majority of schools strongly agree that AV1 has an overall positive effect on the student and their ability to attend school.

  • The majority of teachers agreed they enjoy using AV1.

It has made the student really included in everything. It would have been a very lonely 18 months for her if she hadn’t had it.

– Teacher

Somerset’s successful loan system, resources and tips have helped other local authorities implement AV1 – such as Greater Manchester, Brighton, Gloucestershire, Solihull, Trafford, Dorset and Warwickshire.
The council has not only helped almost 100 vulnerable children in their area, but has also been integral to other local authorities doing the same.

The full report contains more in depth results and case studies. The findings are hoped to encourage other local authorities and schools to see the value of AV1 robots.

Somerset County Council and No Isolation are always on hand to answer any questions about how to grow a successful AV1 project.