Does absence makes the heart grow fonder? Students' perspectives of curriculum, absenteeism and their pursuit of the good life

Simon Edwards, Evie Parmar

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Abstract

In 2015, major revisions were made to the breadth and content of the English national curriculum to ensure the country’s economic success in an emerging technological marketplace (Brynjolfsson and MacAfee; DfE 2016). Increasingly punitive sanctions were introduced to safeguard student attendance and subsequent attainment (Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015; DfE 2017a). Yet, student GCSE attainment has remained static since 2015 (DfE 2018a) and attendance has decreased (DfE 2018b; DfE 2018c). This article considers these coinciding trends by presenting a study that explored 40 secondary school students’ perspectives of their low attendance. Findings evidence their motivation to learn but also their growing disillusionment with curriculum content that is not easily accessible or seen to support a good life, which in turn has impacted their motivation to attend school. Conclusions call for collaborations to be developed between school leaders and students to help make explicit the pathways to a good life that the curriculum claims to support. Collaborations that may also address student absenteeism.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)133-150
Number of pages18
JournalThe Buckingham Journal of Education
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2020

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