Absenteeism amongst Bangladeshi pupils in Westminster
The pupils of Bangladeshi origin in Westminster have been identified as one of the
lowest attending ethnic groups. However, so far, no specific academic study had been
conducted to examine the underlying causes of absenteeism among them.
Therefore, this study, qualitative in nature, set out to identify the most common factors
contributing to absenteeism amongst the focus group who represented one in every ten
pupil-population of the borough. Cross-sectional examination of the perceptually
developed hypotheses was mainly carried out in five primary schools and one secondary
school, located in different geographical areas of the Westminster Local Education
Authority. The sample included 140 pupils (100 primary and 40 secondary), most of their
parents guardians, head teachers, teachers, home-school liaison workers, community
leaders/workers, Westminster Education Welfare Officers, LEA Officers and Attendance
Advisor at DjES. Semi-structured interview and questionnaire schedules were used as the
main tools for data generation.
The findings of the study suggested that poor health was the most prevalent reason for
low attendance among the focus group, followed by extended holidays which resulted in
considerable numbers of absences -both authorised and unauthorised. Family poverty did
not evidently appear to.be a causal explanatory issue for poor health and low attendance
of the pupils.
An overwhelming majority of the pupils, particularly primary girls, showed positive
attitudes towards education and schools too. Female education was receiving increasingly
positive support from the Bangladeshi parents.
A sizeable number of unauthorised absences of both primary and secondary pupils were
also referred to system or registration procedural errors.
However, no cultural, racial or religious concerns were cited as reasons for absenteeism.
The study strongly recommended an immediate clinical investigation into the causes of
the high incidence of health vulnerability among the focus group.