Extended School Non-Attendance: Pupil Experiences and Development of a Local Authority, Multi-Agency Approach to Supporting Regular Attendance

  • Shannon Corcoran

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


Background: Extended school non-attendance needs are increasing, and many Educational Psychology Services are developing their own localised approaches to support. Whilst research is developing in this area, the views of the children and young people experiencing these difficulties are scarcely represented in the literature. Methods/participants: A systematic literature review (SLR) explored children and young people's experiences of extended school non-attendance using a meta-ethnographic approach. A year-long action research (AR) project conducted with a North-West Local Authority (LA) explored how a localised approach to supporting regular school attendance can be developed, and multi-agency stakeholders' perceptions of the impact, facilitators, and challenges for implementation. Analysis/findings: The SLR findings indicate that extended school non-attendance needs appear to arise from a reduced sense of belonging, often relating to cumulative, intersecting difficulties within the physical and social school environment, and pupils' own wellbeing and beliefs about attendance. The AR revealed that development and implementation of a LA approach to promoting attendance requires a gradual, multi-agency approach, which promotes shared ownership of the products and process across all stakeholders to enhance uptake of positive changes to practice. Factors including localisation, multi-agency collaboration and positive feedback facilitated the change process, whilst factors including diminished capacity and misconceptions around roles and responsibilities were barriers to change. Conclusion/implications: The implications of the SLR include an enhanced emphasis on the need to gather young people's views early, and to use their preferred terminology when discussing their difficulties, with further research required to the translate these experiences into policy and practice. Findings from the empirical paper indicate that development of an effective approach requires the commitment and motivation of a core group, with sufficient time and resourcing. Future research should facilitate evaluation of these approaches. Clear dissemination strategies for sharing these findings with other multi-disciplinary practitioners are described.
Date of Award31 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCaroline Bond (Supervisor) & Catherine Kelly (Supervisor)


  • School Attendance
  • Emotionally Based School Non-Attendance
  • Extended School Non-Attendance
  • School Refusal

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