‘Before Covid, I was all about getting the kids into school. Education was a major thing. After Covid, I’m not going to lie to you, my take on attendance now is like I don’t really care anymore. Life’s too short.’ (Listening to, and learning from, parents in the attendance crisis, Public First, 2023)
Many children are missing school as we can see by the national statistics for school absence. Now, more than ever, it is vital school leaders complete robust monitoring of their attendance data to identify trends and pupils and families who need support. Below are a number of reports and resources that may assist.
The DfE is collecting daily attendance data from schools who agree to share their data. Their aim is to give schools, LAs and trusts more up-to-date pupil-level attendance data and help leaders meet the expectations set out in Working together to improve school attendance. Find out more: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/share-your-daily-school-attendance-data
The DfE Working together to improve school attendance guidance document was updated in September 2023 with the addition of a Toolkit for schools: communicating with families to support attendance. You can access the toolkit here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-improve-school-attendance.
In February 2023 the DfE also published Mental health issues affecting a pupil’s attendance: guidance report. Read the summary of responsibilities and effective practice examples: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mental-health-issues-affecting-a-pupils-attendance-guidance-for-schools
The Children’s Commissioner wrote about the importance of attendance just before the start of the new school year. She outlined the fact that the school absence rate for last year stood at 7.5% compared to 4.7% pre-pandemic. Find out more about the Attendance Audit and the deep dive report Voices of England’s Missing Children: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/news-and-blogs/the-importance-of-attendance/
Ofsted have created a webinar for schools: Securing good attendance and tackling persistent absence where they discuss how inspectors look at attendance during an EIF inspection, provide an overview of the findings from research into how schools secure good attendance and some things schools do to tackle persistent absence well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEyWFW5c_NY They have also recently released An update on attendance with Ofsted and the DfE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QryV8U7-mKY&list=PLLq-zBnUkspNBqIkGS-MGKu8XQvP7-H2E&index=1
You may also be interested in the Public First study: Listening to, and learning from, parents in the attendance crisis https://www.publicfirst.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/ATTENDANCE-REPORT-V02.pdf. The report suggests a huge shift in parental attitudes towards attendance.
Mark Miller, Director of Bradford Research School, September 2023 writes, ‘We know that attendance is one of the biggest challenges facing schools right now’ in his blog: https://researchschool.org.uk/bradford/news/attendance-beyond-the-percentage where he also outlines some of the specific challenges pupils face around attendance, including:
- Anxiety and mental health
- Disengagement with the curriculum
- Low income and social disadvantage
- Disrupted home environments
- A culture shift following the pandemic
This blog was written by Bretta Townend-Jowitt, Education Consultant and Trainer.
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