The start of the new academic year can be an exciting time for pupils and school staff; with a summer's worth of adventures to talk about and a year’s worth of learning to begin.
For pupils with historic poor attendance, the first days back in September will be very important in establishing that they are welcome and that staff and other pupils are pleased to see them.
Friendly and enthusiastic language will be essential and schools should be proactive in ensuring that the pupils start the year with a good attitude, offering them opportunities to become part of the school community.
Hitting those important attendance targets
Pupils could be offered the chance to be on a school sports team, in a school performance, or given a role within the school community based on the pupil achieving their attendance targets.
Helping pupils to start non-academic activities may motivate and encourage a positive relationship with school and instill a love of learning.
While all of this positive reinforcement is happening with the pupils, attendance staff should be very mindful of which pupils are vulnerable to poor attendance or possible safeguarding difficulties.
By examining the data from the previous year and setting up user-defined groups, attendance staff will be able to monitor individual attendance and act immediately.
Preventing patterns of absence
While September is a new start with pupils beginning the year on 100%, it is also the time to act quickly to prevent patterns of absence becoming more deeply entrenched and continuing throughout the term.
If interventions have been instigated during the previous academic year, this may simply require a small but firm reminder of the messages sent during the summer term; will medical evidence be required?
Support is always available
School support is always available and attendance at school is a priority. A home visit during the first few weeks may enable open dialogue with parents at home, where they feel more comfortable or at school where a clear action plan may be created with achievable goals for the year.
Try to make this a positive experience highlighting achievement so far and their aspirations for the future.
Keep accurate records from day one!
No one wants attendance matters to escalate to prosecution level, but if they do, ensure your school has not only done all it can to support improvement, as part of your escalation of intervention, but all actions are recorded appropriately for future reference.
How we can help you...
The Education Welfare & Safeguarding advisers at One Education can support with strategic planning or targeted casework.
Additionally, the National Attendance Helpline is available every working day during term time to answers your questions, provide solutions to your attendance issues and update you about the latest information and legislation.