How are Schools Managing Attendance Effectively in 2022?

Schools all over the UK have adopted and developed their own strategies in supporting regular attendance amongst their pupils in an effort to drive down rates of persistent absences.

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Attendance is the concept of people, individually or as a group, appearing at a location for a previously scheduled event. Measuring attendance is a significant concern for many organisations, which can use such information to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts and plan for future efforts.  

What is Absenteeism?

Absenteeism is a habitual pattern of absence from a duty or obligation without good reason. Generally, absenteeism is unplanned absences. Absenteeism has been viewed as an indicator of poor individual performance, as well as a breach of an implicit contract. 

In terms of academic importance, absenteeism can negatively impact a pupil’s academic performance. Pupils with poor attendance received poor grades. Most faculty members concede that regular class attendance helps students learn and improve academic outcomes. Moreover, truant pupils’ relationship with faculty is also a critical factor that affects attendance.  

Students who are chronically absent – means that they miss 10% or more of the school year, are at serious risk of falling behind in school. While chronic absenteeism rates are highest in high school, the problem though occurs at every age level. In the early ages, poor attendance can delay social and emotional learning. It can also prevent children from reaching key milestones such as reading at the right level for their age group.  

In fact, chronic absenteeism is a primary cause of low academic achievement at every grade level, and it is a strong indicator of which pupils are at a higher risk of “dropping out”. 

Brining Parents on the Attendance Journey

Parents play a vital role in supporting attendance – particularly at the primary school level – so encouraging parents to prioritise this is a key part of our strategy. 

Refreshing the school’s attendance policies and making working with parents and families a core part of it. To explain the changes that are issued clearly, the parent-friendly outline of the new policies to all parents, including the expectations of them. At parents’ evening, begin sharing detailed individual pupil attendance data and help parents understand what percentages of absence meant for education time lost in real-time and produce a “minutes late” report, so parents could understand the cumulative impact of their child being late. Parents of pupils who are persistently absent or late can be offered support by a Family Support Worker to find ways to improve attendance.  

Communicate Attendance Expectations

The first step to boosting attendance is to clearly communicate school attendance expectations to students and their families e.g., in the student handbook, school website and as we mentioned earlier in face-to-face meetings. Be sure to explain the importance of attendance and why being on time and in school matters. If attendance is a school-or district-wide issue, set a measurable attendance goal in the school improvement plan and regularly monitor progress toward that goal. 


Form an Attendance Team

An attendance team is the first line of defence against chronic absenteeism. The team monitors attendance daily, tracks progress towards attendance goals and communicates with parents and students about issues as they may arise. Parents should be notified of an absence as early as possible. This can be done by a team member or by an automated system. However, with a personal phone call, the team member has the added benefit of making notes about whom they spoke with and the details of the call, which can be helpful if the issue persists.  

Intervene Early

To prevent small problems from becoming large problems, it is also helpful to create and set “triggers” to instantly alert the attendance team and school leaders to absences.  

For example, if a student is absent two days in a row or absent more than a certain number of days in a specific period, the student’s name is flagged. This signals to the team that additional intervention may be required, such as a parent meeting or a home visit. During the meeting or visit, develop an attendance action plan, focusing on accountability but with a positive mindset. Again, emphasize why it is in the child’s best interest to attend school. 

Track the Positivity Ratio

Many schools have systems for inputting discipline infractions which usually means that the only behaviours being tracked are negative behaviours, negative reinforcement, e.g., a verbal reprimand for problem behaviour, tends to stick longer with students, and it takes a lot of positive reinforcement to get a child back on track. 

Using a 3:1 positivity ratio can help ensure that teachers are giving students positive reinforcement throughout the school day.  

For example, establish a school-wide expectation that teachers will acknowledge or recognise at least three positive student behaviours before they can record a negative behaviour. This helps teachers make sure their focus is on the positive, and it helps them build stronger relationships with their students. 

Create a more Positive School Culture

One of the best ways to get in front of chronic absenteeism is to ensure that a school is a place where students are excited to be. When students feel happy and safe, physically and emotionally, they engage in school. This not only leads to higher attendance but higher academic achievement as well. 

Build an engaging calendar of events that motivates children to come to school and participate in fun and educational experiences. Establish consistent school- and district-wide behaviour expectations to help teachers keep students on task and acting positively. Implement Positive Behavioural Interventions and Supports, social and emotional learning, and other culture-oriented programs. 

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