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Recent attendance rates within schools have been very poor due to several factors. What can be done to improve levels and how can certain students be supported?

According to the recent Schools White Paper published in March that discussed attendance rates:

“children who had no absence during the two years of GCSE study were almost twice as likely to achieve five or more than those who missed 10-15% of lessons.”

High attendance rates are essential to help achieve the best possible grades and open up future opportunities later in life. A first possible solution could be:

1. Personalised support

Regular attendance reviews and meetings can help support students with whatever they require.

Additionally, you can formulate focused action plans that can help students reach certain attainment goals.

Also, when viewing the recent SEND review discussing SEN students and alternative provision:

“They have poorer attendance, make up over 80% of children and young people in state place-funded alternative provision and just 22% reach the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.”

A solution to help support such students could be:

2.. Early intervention

Identifying specifically where a student needs support early in their development can be extremely useful. Using a combination of attendance, pastoral and SEND staff to work in unison can ultimately lead to students and staff being enthusiastic to attend the location.

Implementing early interventions, can help highlight areas for improvement and install realistic action plans.

Attendance rates reflect a school’s overall image and so staff must have high levels too. Recent statistics estimate:

“that 5.5% of teachers and school leaders were absent for any reason from open schools on 9 Jun.”

Teachers need to attend due to their immediate requirement to safeguard their students. Additionally, teachers need to have consistent attendance so it doesn’t interrupt a student’s learning and attainment levels; subsequently ensuring their motivation isn’t drained. A solution could be:

3.. Implementing sophisticated data management systems

Data protection and management need to be at the forefront, especially considering the lessons learned from the pandemic and the cyber-attacks that occurred.

Make sure procedures are in place for absences and they are reviewed regularly. Ensure all concerned clearly understand what is expected and that they are responsible for their attendance.

It would be advisable to use a suitable management information system (MIS) that caters for your needs and allows your staff to comprehend their data and attendance importance.

Absences will occur and it will be difficult to manage 100% effectively, but putting strategies in place with a methodical approach can help support staff, students and families.

The latest figures from the Department for Education stated:

“23.5% of pupils were persistently absent in the autumn term 2021, equating to more than 1.6 million pupils, up from 13% in 2020.”

Why is such a multitude of pupils absent devastating to development? There are several different reasons as to why students are absent and not just physical, so what can be done to support attendance? An avenue could be:

4. Building effective relationships and communication with staff and families

Absenteeism is a huge safeguarding risk because behind closed doors anything can happen evidently through recent high-profile abuse cases. Keeping children safe in education should be paramount and this can be helped by having students in the school which raises attendance.

Not only will good attendance lead to increased safety measures, but it will also help raise attainment levels simultaneously if the learning is engaging.

It is imperative that new strategies, which are timely and effective, are put in place. Encouraging students to be involved with their education coincides with supportive parents which help create a positive learning environment.

Not every student is going to attend because of a particular reason. But, working collaboratively can help improve attendance rates if certain measures are in place. This demonstrates the importance of:

5. Effectively coordinating with multi-agency safeguarding hubs

MASH teams need to improve on their delivery and this coincides with everyone working in unison to achieve the best results possible.

Identify strategies with your local MASH team to safeguard students, but also to ensure their attendance is recorded wherever they are.

What about those who refuse to attend a school or physically can’t? Make sure there are policies in place for suitable alternative provisions which help support a positive reintegration of absentees.

It is also important to have regular attendance and wellbeing checks which can boost attendance.

Let’s support student’s attendance

Why do you think attendance rates are so poor?

What would you do to improve the situation?

There are alternative provisions available that can remove the negative stigma that surrounds them and provide positive learning experiences and even attendance codes.

Positively reintegrating students and supporting their circumstances is crucial. There are many reasons why attendance levels are so poor, especially due to the pandemic, but by implementing focused strategies students and schools can benefit.