What’s Going Around or, The Studybugs Blog Blog Home | Studybugs Home | @TeamStudybugs

How to Sustainably Improve Attendance in 5 Steps

With all the media coverage about low school attendance, it’s rightfully seen as an urgent problem that needs addressing. But that doesn’t mean it has a quick fix. We’ve seen many schools add attendance goals to their school improvement plans, which makes sense as improving attendance across a whole school requires time, perseverance and patience.

Whatever improvements you make, you want them to be sustainable. You can’t run staff into the ground to improve attendance immediately or push parents too far with your messaging. So how do you improve attendance in a way that’s sustainable?

Here’s a 5-step guide to do just that.

1. Accurately track attendance and analyse the data effectively

The first step to improving attendance is tracking your attendance accurately. This includes things like keeping registers up to date, staying on top of missing marks and entering absence reports promptly. Without accurate data, you won’t know where to allocate resources and could end up wasting them or missing warning signs.

With your data shipshape, you can then use it to target your actions effectively. This requires monitoring your attendance data to look for trends, spot warning signs and get a full picture of each pupil’s attendance history.

2. Identify where support is needed most

With thorough analysis of your attendance data, you’ll be able to spot patterns and identify where support is needed. You can then provide the appropriate support as per your action plan, whether that’s a conversation with a pupil when their attendance drops, a letter home, or congratulating a pupil for making improvements.

Early action is a great way to stop problems from escalating – or to reinforce positive behaviour – making sure families feel supported.

3. Make sure staff understand their roles and when they need to act

Much like safeguarding, good attendance is everyone’s responsibility. You may have an attendance officer who takes ownership of policies and monitoring attendance, but other staff will play important roles in fostering a culture of good attendance at your school (more on that later). Class teachers or form tutors will have strong relationships with pupils, so may be best placed to start conversations, for example.

Making sure staff get the information and the support they need to fulfil their roles is key. The right staff need to get the right information at the right time in order to act on it quickly and effectively.

4. Improve staff efficiency to free up the necessary time to act

We all know how stretched everyone’s time is, from SLT to classroom staff to the school office. Ensuring you act as efficiently as possible is paramount to being able to go the extra mile when needed. If someone in the office is spending 3 hours every morning recording absences and chasing them, what steps could you take to reduce that time? If teaching time is lost every morning taking the register, how can you speed up that process? With time to think and work on pastoral care, both pupil and staff wellbeing can be improved.

5. Foster a culture of good attendance

Good attendance doesn’t happen in isolation. If only one person is working on improving attendance, no matter how good they are, it’s not going to get the same results as if the whole school’s on board. Good attendance is also related to other elements of school culture – like the school’s curriculum, ethos, behaviour and inclusivity. Making school a safe place with the right ethos helps make pupils feel that attending is worthwhile.

By breaking it down into actionable steps, you can make your goal to improve attendance manageable and measurable. We’d love to hear from you if you’ve included attendance in your school improvement plan. And please if you’ve found this guide helpful.

— Lucas Abbott

Posted 6 February 2024 Share