The DfE has published new guidance for schools in tackling school attendance that came into force from September 2022 (the guidance).
The guidance applies to all schools and while non-statutory at present, the DfE has confirmed that the Secretary of State has committed to the guidance becoming statutory as early as September 2023.
Improving attendance is everyone’s business. The barriers to accessing education are wide and complex, both within and beyond the school gates, and are often specific to individual pupils and families. The foundation of securing good attendance is that school is a calm, orderly, safe, and supportive environment where all pupils want to be and are keen and ready to learn.
Some pupils find it harder than others to attend school and therefore at all stages of improving attendance, schools and partners will work with pupils and parents to remove any barriers to attendance, working together to put the right support in place. Securing good attendance will not
be seen in isolation, and improvement will involve close interaction with the school efforts to ensure that our curriculum, behaviour, bullying, special educational needs support, pastoral and mental health and wellbeing meet the needs of our children at Acacias Community Primary School.
School attendance has come into even sharper focus given the disruption faced by so many pupils due to the pandemic. The new guidance asks schools to work in close collaboration with local partners to address school attendance issues and improve school attendance across communities.
As part of this drive to improve school attendance, the DfE has set out within the guidance their expectations on how schools may practically address attendance issues, which will include the following actions to (as set out in the guidance):
- Develop and maintain a whole school culture that promotes the benefits of high attendance.
- Have a clear school attendance policy which all staff, pupils and parents understand.
- Accurately complete admission and, with the exception of schools where all pupils are boarders, attendance registers and have effective day to day processes in place to follow-up absence.
- Regularly monitor and analyse attendance and absence data to identify pupils or cohorts that require support with their attendance and put effective strategies in place.
- Build strong relationships with families, listen to and understand barriers to attendance and work with families to remove them.
- Share information and work collaboratively with other schools in the area, local authorities, and other partners when absence is at risk of becoming persistent or severe.