A girl sits on a sofa cross-legged using an iPad

Over half a million children suffer from prolonged school absence in the UK in 2021

New research finds 522,000 children will miss out on their education in the UK in 2021, increasing their risk of social isolation and need for remote learning tools

For children who miss long periods of school, due to factors beyond their control, the negative educational and social consequences can be life-long. School is where relationships are formed, social skills are learned, and academic interests flourish. Every child should have equal opportunity to access a fulfilling education.

But this is not the case. A vast number of reasons prevent young people in the compulsory school age group (5 – 16) from joining their peers in the classroom. In the UK, the phenomenon of children who are out of sight and out of mind is impossible to overcome while there is still no consistent government data being recorded.

The new research conducted by No Isolation both identifies the scope of reasons for long-term school absence and the number of children affected in the UK. This allows those working across the education sector to recognise the scale of the problem and seek out adequate solutions. Key findings from the report are:

  • At least 522,000 children and young people will experience social isolation and will miss out on their education in 2021.
  • 229,000 are ‘Persistent Absentees’ with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) and including SEMH (social, emotional and mental health).
  • 20,000 are permanently excluded or off-rolled with SEND (including SEMH).
  • 21,000 are home educated and not receiving sufficient tuition.
  • 252,000 have been impacted by Covid-19 (either disabled by long-covid, have developed SEMH needs due to Covid, or are avoiding returning to school due to anxiety).

Break down the 522,000 figure, and we find that for every two classrooms there are three empty desks.

No Isolation conducted this research and continue to advocate for this cohort because we believe that:

  • The UK government should have a national data set on the number of children absent from school long term, and not receiving an adequate education.
  • Provisions provided by schools and local authorities should ensure the absent child’s social needs are being met, not purely educational.
  • No parent/carer should have to fight for their child’s right to an education.