Is “Life Too Short” for ABCs? Modern-Day Parents Are Ditching “Regular School” – A Crisis or a Vacation?

A new study in England suggested that parents no longer see hard work as an essential part of growing up, as they believe children shouldn’t be in school every day for reasons such as mental health.

Parents Value School Less

A recent report suggested parents are reevaluating the necessity of daily school attendance, marking a significant shift in mindset since the pandemic.

Covid-19 lockdowns triggered a monumental change in how parents perceive the importance of their children attending school regularly, says a study by consultancy Public First.

A significant number of parents are now taking their children on holidays during term time, a practice now viewed as socially acceptable, but they wouldn’t have gotten away with it back in the day.

Post-Covid, parents no longer view daily school attendance as the sole benchmark of good parenting. They see it as one of several competing demands in their child’s life.

Mental Health in Focus

According to the report, the rise in mental health problems among young people is cited as one of the factors contributing to increased pupil absences.

The study did not find evidence suggesting that parents working from home since COVID-19 have encouraged more children to stay off school.

Many parents expressed a changed perspective post-Covid, with one mother stating, “After Covid, my take on attendance and absence now is like I don’t really care anymore. Life’s too short.”

Government figures revealed a significant increase in “persistently absent” pupils, reaching 22.3% during the 2022/23 academic year.

The report called for a review and potential abolition of fines for school absences, arguing they may not effectively change parent behavior and can strain school-parent relationships.

Schools Need to Prioritize Special Ed

The report suggested that increased investment in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Send) and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) “will significantly improve attendance.”

Ed Dorrell, a partner at Public First, argued, “Schools can’t tackle the school attendance crisis alone,” calling for more funding by the government as schools fall behind.

“While a minority of parents have shifted their views on school attendance, the majority still recognize the significance of regular schooling for their child’s education,” states the study.

The Department for Education argued the crucial role that school plays in positive mental health for most young people, urging parents to change their opinions post-Covid.

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