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By improving attendance you can directly influence improved academic outcomes. Regular class attendance means students are provided with live teaching to both a whole classroom and can also receive tailored feedback. 

The Ofsted framework judges schools in four areas: 1) Quality of education 2) Behaviour and attitudes 3) Personal development and 4) Leadership and management. Attendance is included in the Behaviour and attitudes judgement – so it is essential for schools to keep attendance high.

This blog post will explain how attendance is judged by Ofsted and 5 top tips for how attendance can be improved.

How does Ofsted judge attendance?

The Behaviour and Attitudes judgement considers how leaders and staff create a safe, calm, orderly and positive environment in the school – because this has influence on the behaviour and attitudes of pupils.

Factors that are considered important are:

  • A calm and orderly environment enabling pupils to learn
  • Clear routines and expectations
  • Strong focus on attendance and punctuality so that disruption is minimised
  • Clear and effective behaviour and attendance policies which clearly define consequences that are applied consistently and fairly by all staff
  • Pupil motivation and positive attitudes to learning
  • A positive, respectful school culture in which staff know and care about pupils
  • An environment where pupils feel safe, in which bullying and discrimination are not accepted and in which they are dealt with quickly, consistently and effectively whenever they occur

The guidance states inspectors will:

… evaluate the impact of schools’ high expectation, the consistent, fair implementation of policies, and their impact on the demonstrable improvement of the attendance and behaviour of these pupils. 

Inspectors will analyse absence and persistent absence rates for all pupils and for different groups in relation to national averages for all pupils. Inspectors will take interest in punctuality, as well as the efforts of low attenders to improve attendance over time.

The Leadership and management judgement also states:

Pupils are frequently missing from school (including for part of the school day) but this is not addressed appropriately by staff.

5 top tips for improving attendance

Ofsted has released guidance which describes top tips for improving attendance:

  • Policies, procedures and targets
  • Rewards and incentives
  • Providing effective support
  • Effective monitoring and planning
  • Making the link to employment

Tip 1: Policies, procedures and targets

Policies, procedures and targets work effectively when policies are applied consistently and fairly across the school. Attendance targets can also be in place for individual pupils. 

A prime driver for improving rates of attendance is setting and monitoring realistic targets for individual learners and providing support where required.

Targets and policies could include:

  • An overall attendance policy with aspirational but also realistic targets
  • Individual, timely discussions between learners and teacher and with tutors/managers – where personalised targets can be formulated

Tip 2: Rewards and incentives

Rewards and incentives are most successful when learners have a fair chance of obtaining the reward. These could include:

  • Rewards – sometimes financial and sometimes in the form of opportunities
  • By celebrating and promoting high attendance
  • Incentives to attend, related to learners well-being (e.g. through breakfast clubs at college)
  • Competition for attendance records between groups of learners

Tip 3: Providing effective support

There are a number of reasons that a student may struggle with attendance – financial needs, mentoring to juggle commitments and other pressures can be supported by staff.

These may include:

  • Use of welfare staff, for example in contacting parents about learners’ absence
  • Careful and targeted use of bursary funds to support learners
  • Engagement with parents/carers
  • Mentoring, including using support staff, buddies and ex-learners

Tip 4: Effective monitoring and planning

By emphasising to pupils that attendance is being monitored throughout the day, you can help to improve attendance. This can be supported by learners or parents being contacted immediately when they fail to attend. It is more effective when the phonecall is made by vocational staff rather than administrative staff, whom the learner does not know.

  • Effective electronic systems for recording and evaluating attendance and punctuality
  • Effective use of swipe cards to trackers’ learners attendance in college and in classrooms
  • Systems such as text messaging for alerting learners to concerns about attendance
  • Effective timetabling to avoid isolated sessions and long gaps in learners’ days
  • Later start times for adults with childcare responsibility (adult learning and college)
  • Closing recreational facilities during class times

Tip 5: Making the link to employment

This works best when colleges build strong relationships with local employers. Learners are often more open to messages about attendance from employers because they can make a link between attendance and employability skills.

  • Linking attendance and punctuality to a real-life vocational setting, such as attendance rates for hospitality learners
  • Inviting employers to talk to learners about the attributes employers seek when recruiting
  • Including assignments and other activities which encourage learners to think about the skills they need in employment

There are some strategies used for improving attendance that have an adverse effect. For example, sanctions can be demotivating and tend to reinforce poor self-esteem and low aspirations.

Many students have experienced disciplinary approaches at school and have little regard for these measures.

If you are refusing to allow students late for sessions to join, it can prevent learning and also create issues with safeguarding.

A one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to suit the needs of each individual student.

How EDClass can help with improving attendance

Read more: how to reduce persistent absence

EDClass has a history of improving attendance around the UK through our online platform.

Our system helps students towards achieving a B-code attendance mark and re-engage with education. 

Springwell Lincolnshire (PRU) said:

For many of our students, anxiety creates a barrier to their learning, but with EDClass, the pressure to perform in front of peers is removed, which has meant that for two particular students attendance has gone from virtually nothing to 80% plus, which has also raised their attainment dramatically. The interface for the students is very user-friendly, and they actively enjoy their lessons, even those who have previously hated school.

EDClass features a sophisticated tracking system to monitor attendance and performance. Teachers can log in to the system at any time in order to support the student’s learning.

Safeguarding is ensured through a range of mechanisms including alerts, chat functions, eyes-on learning and all staff are enhanced DBS checked.

For more information call 01909 568 338.