According to recently published reports by the Department for Education on pupil absence in primary and secondary schools, the overall absence rate across state-funded primary, secondary & special schools in 2015/16, has stayed the same as in 2014/15, at 4.6 per cent. This follows a downward trend in overall absence since 2006/07, when the rate was 6.5 per cent. The overall absence rate in primary schools in 2015/16 has also remained the same as in 2014/15 at 4.0 per cent.
The rate in secondary schools decreased slightly from 5.3 per cent in 2014/15 to 5.2 per cent in 2015/16. There are a greater number of pupil enrollments in state-funded primary schools than in state-funded secondary and special schools combined, which explains why the total overall absence rate for all schools remains unchanged.
The rate of absence due to illness (not medical or dental appointments) has remained stable in the last year, at 2.6 per cent of all possible sessions in 2015/16 compared to 2.8 per cent in 2014/15. Family holidays (authorised and unauthorised) accounted for 8.2 per cent of all absences in 2015/16 compared to 7.5 per cent in 2014/15. The percentage missed due to all family holidays has also increased slightly from 0.3 per cent in 2014/15 to 0.4 per cent in 2015/16.
The above unchanged absence rates show that chronic student absenteeism continues to be one of the greatest obstacles to equal academic achievement among students. School Managers, community leaders, teachers, and parents across the UK have long recognised student absenteeism’s damaging effects for student success. Increasing student attendance rates is an important priority for school, but it poses a complex challenge. We’ve found that schools often turn to data to uncover attendance trends and to perception feedback to craft a strategy to reengage this population.
Research has proven, schools who succeed follow the strategies below:
1. Start with early Intervention
The reasons that many students are chronically absent can be addressed through prevention strategies, especially at the primary school level. Studies recommend that early interventions are more effective in improving attendance than those that begin in secondary school.
2. Nurture family involvement
Often, student absenteeism has roots in out-of-school factors like poverty, family mobility, child care, and safety concerns. Schools with high attendance rates engage families with effective communication and support strategies.
3. Create mentoring programs
Appoint at-risk students a mentor to create trust between students and families, identify problems and limitations and check in frequently can enormously improve attendance.
4. Use incentives
Incentive programs are often a low-cost, high-impact option for schools, especially in the earlier years. The most successful programs avoid recognizing perfection and reward punctuality. They can rely on low-cost incentives such as certificates, extra recess, homework passes, etc.
5. Gather accurate data!
Attendance policy success depends to a high degree on collecting and correctly interpreting well-targeted student attendance data.
Schools can use data gathered internally through the use of systems such as Synel’s EduReg, an innovative and user friendly web based interface for the monitoring of student attendance, which can be used by all major browsers.
When this data is used with local comparative data a school can identify causes and patterns of absence, find solutions and evaluate effectiveness. A time and attendance system like Edureg, especially designed to address the needs of schools can provide the Senior management with regular updates about attendance. This data can be also be used to inform parents with letters, newsletters and assemblies regarding the attendance patterns of students in a particular school.
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