Poor attendance is seen by many as the simplest and most fundamental indicator of the overall quality of a school and its teaching.
And it’s not only appearances that schools with low attendance should be concerned about, as pupils who have low attendance are far more likely to fail their qualifications, and struggle to pick up the skills they need to successfully progress in adult life.
Figures show that almost 400,000 pupils miss 15% of schooling a year – the equivalent of having a month off school.
Evidence shows that as children move up through the school system from primary school onwards, the number of children who are persistently absent grows – most significantly in the final years of secondary school
Create a classroom environment of rights and responsibilities
Good attendance begins with pupils taking charge of their own learning – of feeling in control of their future – a bright future.
Along with a good relationship with each of your pupils, a classroom community and healthy culture forms a solid backbone for the behaviours of students.
One exercise from a primary school teacher writing for Top Notch Teaching draws upon the ‘community circle’, yet this can be adapted and matured for students in older classes. At any age, the aim is simple: to encourage open lines of conversation and to create a sense of belonging.
I use the community circle at the beginning and end of the day for at least 3 days during the week. We would sit in a circle on the mat and students would respond to a question/statement that I asked them. I would pass around a wand or squishy ball and students could only speak when they were holding the item.
Some of the topics/questions we discussed in the community circle could include:
- Tell the class a care, concern or celebration you may have
- One thing that made me happy today was…
- One thing I really like about school is …
- One thing I really dislike about school is…
Create formal contracts where attendance issues have emerged
Formal contracts should be thought of as one of the last resorts when it comes to behavioural management – yet for attendance as soon as problems arise is a time ripe for drastic action.
These contracts could and should be developed alongside the parents or carers, but they should have the consensus of the student in question too. They should outline their aims, the consequences and the rewards – and should be signed by both pupil and teacher.
Use technology – Learn from case studies in managing behaviour and attendance
In many schools the use of technology to manage behaviour and attendance has resulted in revolutionary outcomes, such as at Wistaston Green Primary, where using SIMS has raised attendance from 93 per cent to 96.4 percent, and Rutlish School, which has switched from a pink slip behavioural points system to technology, and in doing so, has driven an improvement in GCSE results by a staggering 79% over four years.
Of course, our own EDLounge platform can also help improve attendance through effective behaviour management.
The Academy is based in an area of low income families with a high proportion of students coming from challenging complex backgrounds, Keeping students engaged and attending regularly is a daily challenging task.
We were introduced to EDLounge in the middle of the academic year 2016 – 2017 the impact on our attendance was instant and had a positive impact on our figures.
Contact us if you want to find out how we can help you improve attendance figures and pupil behaviour.