New creative solutions can be implemented to overcome student attendance barriers; finding the best fit is what can be tricky.
Student attendance has been a recurring problem within the education sector. Current absence figures, at the time of writing, showcase:
Source: Department for Education
These statistics have shown a slight increase, but, when you delve deeper into the data it highlights:
“1.9% of pupil enrolments were severely absent (missed 50% or more of possible sessions) in autumn and spring 2022/23. This is an increase from 1.5% across the same period in 2021/22 and equates to almost 139,000 pupil enrolments.”
There are still thousands of children not obtaining any educational or well-being support resulting in poor personal development, how can we break this cycle? Here are three strategies which can be useful when looking to improve attendance within a school setting.
1. Create a positive and welcoming school culture
The School Inspection Handbook states when evaluating behaviour and attitudes:
“288. The behaviour and attitudes judgement considers how leaders and other staff create a safe, calm, orderly and positive environment in the school and the impact this has on the behaviour and attitudes of pupils.”
Students are more likely to attend school if they feel safe, respected, and valued. Schools can create a positive and welcoming school culture by:
- Establishing clear expectations and consequences for behaviour. Students need to know what is expected of them and what will happen if they do not meet those expectations. However, it is important to be fair and consistent when enforcing consequences.
- Promoting positive relationships between students and staff. Students need to feel like they have someone to turn to when they need help. Teachers and other staff members can build positive relationships with students by getting to know them on a personal level, being supportive and encouraging, and resolving conflicts peacefully.
- Celebrating student success. Schools should recognise and celebrate student achievements, both big and small. This helps students feel good about themselves and their accomplishments, and it motivates them to continue to succeed.
2. Implement effective attendance interventions
Student safety should be paramount. Keeping Children Safe in Education 2023 states:
“Early intervention is essential to identify the existence of any underlying safeguarding risk and to help prevent the risks of a child going missing in future. It is important that staff are aware of their school or college’s unauthorised absence procedures and children missing education procedures.”
Schools can implement a variety of attendance interventions to help students who are struggling to attend school regularly. This will keep them safe and effective solutions can be implemented to support their educational journeys. Some common interventions include:
- Early warning systems. These systems identify students who are at risk of chronic absenteeism early on so that schools can intervene early to prevent absences from piling up.
- Individualised attendance plans. These plans are developed in collaboration with the student, their family, and school staff to address the specific barriers to attendance that the student is facing.
- Attendance incentives and rewards. These can be used to motivate students to attend school regularly. For example, schools might offer rewards to students who have perfect attendance or who improve their attendance rate.
3. Build strong partnerships with parents and families
The Working Together to Improve Attendance guidance states schools should:
“Set high expectations for the attendance and punctuality of all pupils and communicate these regularly to pupils and parents through all available channels. In doing so, schools should help parents to understand what is expected of them and why attendance is important to their child’s attainment, wellbeing, and wider development. It should also include clarity on the short- and long-term consequences of poor attendance.”
Parents and families play a vital role in supporting student attendance. Schools can build strong partnerships with families by communicating regularly, providing resources and support, and involving families in decision-making.
Here are some specific tips for building strong partnerships with parents and families:
- Communicate regularly about student progress, attendance, and upcoming events.
- Provide resources and support to help families overcome barriers to attendance, such as transportation assistance and childcare.
- Involve families in decision-making about school policies and programs.
- Host events and workshops for families on topics such as attendance, parenting, and academic support.
Take a look at our previous blog on how to engage disenfranchised parents with their child’s education here.
Use an online alternative provision to support attendance
An online alternative provision, such as EDClass, can help elevate attendance rates and support students effectively.
Students with specific needs are struggling for a reason. Therefore, they need some reassurance and an environment that is conducive to learning.
An online alternative provision, with robust safeguarding measures and high-quality education, can ensure students are not left behind in their education.
If you would like to learn more about an online alternative provision where schools can claim attendance codes and students can develop their academic abilities and self-confidence then get in contact with EDClass. You can call 01909 568338, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or enquire for more information here.