You’ve probably heard the saying “showing up is half the battle”. But there is far more to this than meets the eye.
Regular attendance sets the foundation for academic success, leading to significant long-term benefits for each child. However, this a real challenge that some children and their families face every day. For schools it can be difficult to know what you can do to get the child back in to the classroom.
A clear example of this is where we have worked collaboratively with a school to support the work they are doing with one of their families. The child in question has anxiety and an EHCP. Their attendance has been below 80% for the previous 3 years! Covid, to a large part, has brought this anxiety to a head and therefore reintroducing school has proven tricky.
Quick fixes, for example certificates/rewards, had a short-term gain but lacked longevity. These strategies rarely have long-term impact on the individuals who need support the most in a whole school scenario. That’s not to say that, for the vast majority, these strategies don’t work.
Clarity of Approach
That is why the clarity of your approach is crucial to making those ‘marginal gains’ which will impact not only whole school figures, but vulnerable groups and persistent absenteeism. This clarity of approach needs to be shared with all stakeholders and responsibilities managed wisely, proactively and robustly. The key factor in the clarity of your approach, is not to run before you can walk. Take small steps that will have the greatest impact – this way your marginal gains will have longevity through creating a culture of somewhere everyone wants to be.
Proactively Monitor Attendance
Alongside this, proactively monitoring attendance is vital. Don’t wait until a child becomes a PA before acting. You should have a mechanism in place that keeps abreast of each individual’s attendance and alerts/actions in place for when any child dips below 95%, 93% and 91%.
- How often do you monitor attendance? Daily, weekly, monthly, termly?
- Is this having the desired impact?
Identifying and establishing the underlying reasons for poor attendance is vital and will ensure whole school, vulnerable group, and PA attendance percentages remain positive. The “EEF: Attendance interventions rapid evidence assessment”, published last year, highlighted early intervention alongside targeted approaches, where schools aimed to address individual causes of absenteeism. This saw positive outcomes for the children and the schools involved.
Look Beyond the School Gates
Finally, look beyond the school gates. There is support out there for you. Don’t be afraid to share your worries or concerns. Far too often we support schools who for too long have been afraid to ask for help. We always say to children and staff, “we’re here for you” so please ask when you need our support. How often do you as a leader do that?
Small Improvements Lead to Big Results
So returning to the child I mentioned earlier, having looked at the above approach, the school now undertakes regular monitoring meetings and a have a clear timetable of targeted interventions through 3 external providers (mentoring and Alternative Provision). They also ensure regular contact with home (daily when necessary) and milestone meetings in school to review and discuss how the plan is working with all parties involved. This has not only positively impacted on the child’s attendance, performance and social and emotional well-being, but developed the home/school relationship, whilst opening doors for the school to continue the good work with external agencies
So! To all you attendance leads out there: be bold, be brave but most of all, be clear… attendance matters!
If we can be of assistance in supporting your setting with any attendance related matters please do get in touch us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://schoolpro.uk/project/attendance/ to see the broad range of attendance support mechanisms we offer.
Director, SchoolPro TLC Ltd
SchoolPro TLC Ltd (2023)
SchoolPro TLC guidance does not constitute legal advice.
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