Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The School Attendance Debate

This morning ITV Daybreak had a segment dedicated to debate the issue of Parents who take their children out of school during term time for family holidays.

Our Head Teacher did the live slot on the sofa while I added a canned interview to put the governors perspective.

The programme can be seen here:


There is no simple answer to the debate! Holiday companies will say it is pure economics and a case of supply and demand, parents will resent paying higher prices in school holidays, Ofsted will claim attendance is linked to attainment and demand 96% attendance for the School to be graded as outstanding and Schools & Teachers don't want the disruption to their classes and pupils especially when preparing for assessments.

So in connection with today's debate I thought I would cover the school attendance policy and the governing body role in supporting and monitoring it.

The starting point to improving school attendance is a clear Behaviour and Attendance Policy, or an attendance policy that is clearly linked to other relevant policies in the school e.g. SEN or whole school behaviour.

The policy should include the following:

Statement of Aims:

A Statement regarding the importance the school places on good attendance and what constitutes ‘good’ attendance. It is helpful to state the link between attainment and attendance and that school policy is designed to support children and parents/carers.

Parental Responsibility:

The policy should make it clear that it is a parental responsibility to ensure that pupils attend school and the consequences for failing to do so.

First Day Contact:

The school’s policy regarding first day contact. It must be completely clear to parents / carers what contact is expected of them on the first day of a child’s absence.


A clear statement regarding the taking of holidays during term time. And a statement regarding the taking of extended holidays which may result in children being taken off roll

Religious Observations:

A policy regarding additional day’s absence regarding days of religious observance for ethnic minority groups.

Teachers’ Responsibilities:

A section of the policy should spell out the teacher responsibility for taking the register and for understanding and using the codes correctly emphasising the fact that the register is a legal document.

Use of Codes:

A clear explanation of the codes themselves and how they should be used should be included in the policy.

Use of Data:

A detailed description of how attendance data will be used and why.

Truancy and lateness:

The school’s policy regarding post-registration truancy should be outlined as should the school’s policy regarding ‘lates’ i.e. when the register will close and the support/sanctions for persistent ‘latecomers’.


Systems for effective monitoring should be put in place and detailed in the policy

Governing Body:

The role of the governing body in promoting and monitoring the attendance policy should be made completely clear.

Positive Strategies

Strategies to promote good school attendance including working with outside agencies should be briefly outlined in the policy.

As with all policies, the attendance policy should not simply be a box ticking exercise that is left to sit on a shelf. It should be a dynamic document which is updated to reflect changes in policy. It should be accessible and understood by all those that are expected to adhere to it. In short it should be used to help implement good practice and encourage excellent attendance.

No comments:

Post a Comment