The whole thing is a mess of flawed logic and, potentially,dishonesty. The Dfe know that there is a correlation between attendance and performance. Either through incompetency (they think that correlation implies causality) or dishonesty (they know that it doesn't but don't care) they enforce their flawed view through the use of fines/punishment. I'm not surprised that disengaged pupils or disaffected parents lead to poor attendance and to academic underperformance, is anybody surprised? But that does not mean the underperfomance was caused by the poor attendance, while the DfE suffer from 'target fixation' on attendance figures, we are all distracted from the true issue..disengagement and disaffection. Whether this is deliberate obfuscation or breathtaking incompetence...well I suppose that depends on your view of the DfE and their political masters.