SERVICE CHILDREN’S EDUCATION ATTENDANCE POLICY 1 ATTENDANCE POLICY CONTENTS Page 1. Introduction 3 2. The legal framework 3 3. Ensuring scho...
Author: Olivia Parsons
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The legal framework



Ensuring school attendance



The national context



The SCE context



Partnership working



Roles and responsibilities



Working with parents



Data collection and analysis


10. Effective Attendance Practice in Schools


11. Evaluating success


12. Monitoring and evaluation


13. SCE attendance targets


14. School attendance targets


15. References


Appendix: Comparative attendance data



1. Introduction 1.1 This policy contributes to the SCE Strategic Plan for Inclusion. Inclusion is an integral part of the SCE Education Development Plan that seeks to raise standards and promote the achievement of all young people. 1.2 SCE wishes to ensure that all children gain maximum benefit from the educational opportunities available in order that they achieve their full potential. 1.3 The policy sets out SCE’s commitment to ensure that attendance is given a high priority in schools and that realistic targets for improvement are set. It is supplemented with practical guidance for schools, which reflect best practice as outlined by the DfES and the Audit Commission. 2. The legal framework 2.1 Although UK legislation does not apply in overseas settings, SCE policies and practices correspond, wherever possible, to DfES guidance and the statutory frameworks that apply to UK Local Education Authorities. 2.2 Under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996, parents of a child of compulsory school age are under a legal duty to ensure the regular attendance of their child where he or she is a registered pupil. In the UK failure to discharge this duty may result in the LEA prosecuting the parents. 2.3 It is a requirement under Service regulations that personnel should ensure that their children receive an appropriate education. Should parents fail to do so there are mechanisms that can be brought to bear, if necessary, in order to enforce attendance. 3. Ensuring school attendance 3.1 Success starts by being at school. Regular attendance is a prerequisite to a good education and securing it must be a high priority for all stakeholders. 3.2 Being out of school can cause serious long-term harm to young people’s lives and ruin their chances of success. By failing to attend school regularly, pupils diminish the value of the education provided for them. Schools therefore need to monitor and support pupils to maintain regular school attendance. 3.3 Schools will wish to encourage and promote good attendance in as many ways and for as many pupils as they can, but they will need to balance this with measures to address the needs of vulnerable children who, for whatever reason, find it difficult to attend. A whole school approach to attendance will focus primarily on promoting attendance but will also address such issues as truancy, condoned absences, exclusion and re-integration.


3.4 A whole school approach to attendance relates to a wide range of other school issues including punctuality, rewards and incentives, the quality of teaching and learning, curricular differentiation and home-school links. 4. The national context 4.1 Concern about truancy and attendance is a central feature of the Government’s social inclusion strategy, principally because: •

regular and punctual attendance at school is essential to the process of raising attainment;

young people not in school are more likely to drift into crime or other anti-social activity.

4.2 In recent years, Local Education Authorities (LEAs) have been set targets to reduce truancy in the primary, secondary and special school sectors. Truancy, otherwise known as unauthorised absence, is defined by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) as: “absence without leave from a teacher or other authorised representative of the school. This includes all unexplained or unjustified absence” 4.3 Attendance figures for SCE, with national comparisons, for the last four years are included as Appendix 1. The Government has placed considerable importance on reducing unauthorised absence and has made it quite clear to LEAs (and consequently SCE) that they have a major role to play in reducing unauthorised absence in their area. More recently however, due to proven links between absence rates and pupil attainment, the emphasis has shifted to reducing overall absence figures. The overall absence rate is likely to be more relevant to the SCE context as truancy is less likely in Service communities overseas than in the UK (see below). 5. The SCE context 5.1 The context of SCE schools within a Service environment and overseas location gives rise to a number of issues that impact on SCE policy and strategy for attendance. Many of these are positive: •

the close knit nature of our local communities make truancy a less likely occurrence in Service communities overseas than in the UK;

parents are usually eager for their children to attend school;

there is an expectation within the military community that children will attend school regularly and that parents will support their children’s education;

family circumstances (health, housing, employment) are usually favorable


There is organized transportation in most locations from home to school and back each day

Some secondary school pupils are able to board on a weekly basis.

5.2 However, whilst some aspects of the Service community overseas encourage good attendance, others can impact on the continuity of education for children of Service personnel, for example: •

pupils can be absent from school due to a family requirement for compassionate leave;

special consideration for additional leave has to be given to the return of a parent from active duty;

the stress of deployment can result in the return of a family to the UK;

gaps between postings can result in children being out of school.

5.3 SCE schools need to consider how these ‘Service specific’ factors can be mitigated in order to promote maximum attendance. 5.4 Improving attendance is a complex process requiring effective working relationships between SCE, School Governance Committees, schools, the community and parents. To achieve success it is essential that partners should work together within a creative framework, but also one that contains certain expectations on all sides. 5.5 School attendance is a vital component of improving attainment in SCE. Action needs to be taken as levels of unauthorised absence are consistently above UK averages in both the primary and secondary sectors of SCE. Although authorised absence rates for 2003/04 are slightly better than the UK average SCE should not be complacent and should also strive to improve performance in this area. 6. Partnership working 6.1 Joint action between SCE, schools, School Governance Committees and parents is required in order to meet SCE/DfES targets for attendance. However, SCE does not always have access to the full range of services that might support attendance within a UK LEA. 6.2

For schools in SCE, support is available from other services. These include: •

Unit Welfare (Families) Officers

Educational Psychology and Child Guidance Service

Inclusion Development and Support Teachers

Secondary Strategy Team (links with Behaviour and Attendance strand) 5

Area Education Officers

Link Inspector/Advisers

ConnX-BFG Personal Adviser



Youth Service

Learning Mentors

Careers Advisers



6.3 SCE will develop partnership agreements with police and social services to support attendance. 7. Roles and responsibilities 7.1 Unlike a UK LEA, SCE does not have a separate Educational Welfare Service, which would otherwise have lead responsibility for monitoring and ensuring attendance. This makes it particularly important that school and other staff have a clear understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities in relation to attendance. 7.2 The Area Education Officer, Cyprus, AEO(C), will take the lead on policy and guidance for attendance. 7.3 SCE Senior Social Workers (SSWs) and the Inclusion Support and Development Teacher (Behaviour and Attendance) can, at the request of the school, provide assistance in the following areas: •

preparation of school policies

development and monitoring of school procedures

analysis of data

contribution to in-service training of school staff


7.4 Responsibility for individual attendance issues is shared between schools and Unit Welfare (or Families) Officers. SCE Senior Social Workers may become involved when there are family or behavioural issues but not simply as a chaser of pupils for non-attendance (unless it is in the absence of others who can fulfill this role). The Inclusion Support and Development Teacher (Behaviour and Attendance) may become involved if problems with attendance are linked to poor behaviour or difficulty in accessing the curriculum. 7.5 If a military unit does not have a designated Unit Welfare Officer then the Commanding Officer assumes or delegates UWO functions. For RAF personnel, the Station Admin Officer fulfils this role. 7.6 Link Inspector Advisers will have a monitoring role as part of their responsibility for school improvement. Area Education Officers will provide support for attendance as part of the Every Child Matters agenda. 8. Working with parents 8.1 Whilst Government, SCE, individual schools and other agencies can do much to encourage the raising of attendance, the crucial partners are parents. If parents are unaware of the impact that absences can have on their children’s education, or are unsupportive of school, then interventions may be less effective and effort wasted. It is essential, therefore, that parents are seen as partners in any strategy to improve attendance. This can be achieved in a number of ways: 8.1.1

at national level, by using: •

the national press and media;

national awards e.g. “truancy buster”;

the raised level of fines on parents, and promoting the use of parenting orders under the Crime and Disorder Act. Although these are not directly applicable to SCE the publicity arising from high profile cases raises the awareness of attendance in the minds of parents.

8.1.2 In overseas Commands, by SCE through: •

use of the local press and BFBS for publicising the importance of attendance;

leaflets for parents on attendance matters;

UWOs and SSWs work with families;

identification and close monitoring of any vulnerable groups;

monitoring at key times e.g. transition between primary and secondary schools.

8.1.3 Locally, by schools through: 7

regular and timely communication to parents;

Home/school agreements;

Citizenship and PSHE;

parents’ evenings;

award/reward systems;

specific reports on individual pupils.

9. Data collection and analysis 9.1 Schools are required to send to SCE data on school attendance. The reliability of the data needs to be monitored and consistency of recording developed across SCE schools. The termly receipt of accurate information will enable SCE to: •

monitor overall levels of attendance, authorised and unauthorised absence at each school;

identify schools where there may be particular problems;

agree any necessary re-direction of resources to address difficulties;

celebrate success and disseminate good practice.

9.2 If schools and SCE are to achieve the targets set by Government, it is essential that attendance information is regularly collected and analysed. Increasingly, schools are computerising their attendance information and SCE will do all it can to support this. Initially it is proposed that information is collected from schools via Senior Social Workers on a termly basis and used to target particular problem areas. 9.3 SCE must monitor how successfully its strategy helps to improve attendance. Good practice would look at:


monitoring referrals to the UWOs and their outcome;

monitoring, developing and improving the support of the Services to enforce attendance;

feeding this data back to schools to help inform practice. Effective Attendance Practice within SCE

SCE has a significant role to play in supporting effective attendance practice in schools. 8

10.1 SCE should: •

identify and resolve problems that impede regular attendance and punctuality;

provide advice and guidance to schools and Unit Welfare Officers on attendance matters;

use parental leaflets/local publicity campaigns to gain parental support and raise awareness of the need for regular attendance;

regularly check school registers;

recognise the value of early intervention to establish patterns of regular attendance;

provide a greater focus at the Y6/Y7 transition of pupils who may be at risk of not settling in to secondary school. This could also apply at other points of transition, particularly if the child has a history of poor attendance;

involve other agencies in searching for a resolution to complex attendance problems;

compare SCE performance on attendance with national standards, leading to target setting to raise attendance levels;

identify and disseminate good practice;

monitor and evaluate the provision which schools make for attendance:

where required, fund and maintain high quality boarding accommodation and appropriate staffing.


Effective Attendance Practice in Schools

Every school should have a policy and procedures designed to ensure that all its pupils attend regularly. This section of the policy provides an overview of the themes that successful schools have adopted in relation to school attendance. It outlines issues to consider when developing school level approaches to improving attendance, it is not intended as a list of ‘must do’ items, nor is it a list of priorities. Each section provides information on good practice which schools can use to help meet their attendance priorities. Advice and support on reviewing performance, setting priorities and developing plans is given to schools through the ongoing programme of training designed to support effective attendance practice in schools.


10.3 • • • • • • • • • 10.4

Successful schools: treat attendance as a priority; have a clear policy on attendance; use robust systems for monitoring attendance; use data and other information to improve school and pupil performance; promote the importance of good attendance to pupils and their parents/carers; intervene early when individual pupil absence gives cause for concern; have support systems in place for vulnerable pupils; reward and celebrate good and improved attendance; and make best use of additional support for pupils and parents with greatest need. Successful schools…..

….. treat attendance as a priority by having: • • • • • • • • 10.5 • • • • •

a teaching and learning ethos which encourages all pupils to attend whatever their level of ability or need; an attendance and behaviour policy which is easily understood by all, reviewed regularly, consulted on and disseminated widely; clear and challenging attendance targets at different levels (e.g. by pupil or year group); a named SGC member and senior manager to lead on attendance; good links with agencies supporting attendance; weekly reporting of attendance issues to the senior management team; and termly to the SGC; considered how the physical layout of the school can help improve attendance, punctuality and deter post registration truancy; developed a multi agency response to improve attendance and support pupils and families. ….. have a clear policy on absence which ensures: pupils and parents understand the circumstances in which schools will or will not authorise absence; holiday requests are handled consistently at a senior level; lateness and post-registration absence procedures are understood by all; longer term medical absences (consistent or intermittent) are discussed with medical personnel; there are alternatives to study leave.


10.6 • • • • • • 10.7 • • • • • • • • 10.8 • • • • •

….. use robust systems for monitoring attendance which have: clear procedures for staff, parents/carers and pupils for accurate recording and reporting; training and support for staff using the system; consistent use by staff of the absence codes for recording absence; monitoring of the quality of data recorded by staff and procedures to deal with any concerns; procedures to resolve unexplained absences within a week; electronic registration systems. ….. use data and other information to improve school and pupil performance: benchmarking overall school absence against other schools in similar circumstances; regularly monitoring progress towards attendance targets; collecting and analysing attendance data frequently (e.g. weekly) to identify causes and patterns of absence; understanding and using data to devise solutions and to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions; considering the link between an individual’s attendance and their attainment; using good practice from other schools and sharing their own good practice; using LEA/OfSTED advice on attendance; using the materials and expertise available through the KS3 Behaviour and Attendance stand. …..promote the importance of good attendance to pupils and the parents/carers: using school promotional material, parent’s evenings, pupil reviews and home/school agreements to engage parents/carers; using school assemblies and visual displays to engage pupils; communicating clearly with pupils and parents about the consequences of condoned absence and truancy; reminding parents of their legal obligations; providing information about the range of support services that parents can access.


…..intervene early when individual pupil absence gives cause for concern by:

making first day contact with parent/carer for all pupils absent without known reason (by telephone); analysing individual pupil data to identify quickly patterns of absence which cause concern; setting clear trigger points for higher levels of intervention which are consistently applied; having school attendance conferences for pupils causing significant concern; seeking advice from the Senior Social Workers.

• • • •


10.10 …..have support systems in place for vulnerable groups which provide: • • • • •

pastoral support plans for pupils with long term attendance difficulties; a process to enable returning pupils to catch up on learning and re-integrate within the school; access to external support for parents and pupils; training for staff on specific needs of pupils; alternative curriculum provision for pupils who are disaffected and may benefit from such help.

10.11 ….. reward and celebrate good and improved attendance through: • • •

a range of reward systems which are developmentally appropriate for pupils with poor attendance and those who are improving; certification for good and improving attendance; use, in primary schools, of attendance ‘mascots’.

10.12 ….. make best use of additional support for pupils and parents with greatest need by having: • • • • •


a clear system for reporting concerns about non-attendance to SCE; a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of schools and other agencies in relation to attendance; a service level agreement (or equivalent) with SCE; partnership working with the local authority to ensure appropriate use of legal intervention to reinforce parental responsibility; parenting contracts for non-attendance where parenting is thought to be a contributory factor to deteriorating attendance. Effective Attendance Support from Parents In support of schools parents should

ensure that their children attend school regularly and on time;

notify the school as early as possible on the first day of absence;

only request a holiday in term time in exceptional circumstances;

follow the correct procedures when requesting a holiday in term time;

not keep their children away from school for trivial reasons;

accept and observe the obligations contained in the Home-School Agreement regarding attendance and punctuality; 12

ensure that transport is available if their child is not able to use official transport to school

ensure that their child shows respect and care for others.

11. Evaluating success 11.1 Schools and SCE will identify interventions which have been successful as part of the evaluation process. When evaluating success it will be considered whether or not: •

attendance has improved;

punctuality has improved;

targets have been met;

parental response to absences has improved;

re-integration plans have been successful;

the school has been successful in raising the profile of attendance, both within the school, SGC and the local community;

pupils are fully aware of the importance of punctuality and regular attendance and the attendance procedures operating within school;

schools have developed a teaching and learning ethos which encourages all pupils to attend whatever their level of ability or need.

12. Monitoring and evaluation 12.1

SCE’s attendance policy and support for schools will be monitored and evaluated through:

analysis of SCE and school data in relation to national attendance data and other benchmark data;

analysis of progress detailed in school self evaluation reports;

reviewing the range and quality of training that supports attendance;

school improvement plan priorities;

OfSTED inspection reports;

Senior Social Worker school visits; 13


link Inspector/Adviser school visits;

reports to the SCE Inclusion Strategy Group;

Primary and Secondary Behaviour and Attendance Strategy reports. SCE attendance targets

Overall attendance targets for SCE schools will be determined and reviewed annually by the SCE Executive Board. 14. School attendance targets 14.1 Individual schools should set their own annual targets for attendance based on school data and SCE targets. The School Governance Committee should review performance against targets annually, and agree revised targets for the following school year. Targets, and performance against previous targets, should be made known to staff and parents. For example, targets could be set out in the staff handbook and school prospectus, and published on the school website. 14.2 Attendance levels at individual schools and performance against the targets set by schools will be reviewed annually by the SCE Executive Board. SCE staff will work with individual schools to understand the factors that affect school attendance and to identify appropriate strategies for improvement.


References: Legislation: • The Education Act 1996 • The Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations, 1995 • The Education (Pupil Registration) (Amendment) Regulations, 1997 • The Education (Pupil Registration) (Amendment) (England) Regulations, 2001 • The Education (School Leaving Date) Order, 1997 Guidance: • Ensuring Regular Attendance – DfES, 2003 • Key Stage 3 Advice on whole school behaviour and attendance policies, 2003 • Guidance on Education Related Parenting Contract, Parenting Orders and Penalty Notices, 2003 Good Practice: • DfES Toolkit – School Attendance Website • Improving School Attendance & Behaviour – Interactive Audit • Improving Behaviour & Attendance in Secondary Schools – OfSTED, 2001 The DfES website: contains links to detailed material on good practice, attendance targets and benchmarking, parenting contracts, e-registration and the legislation, as well as information on research and publications.


ANNEX 1 - COMPARATIVE ATTENDANCE DATA Primary Sector SCE % Attendance % Authorised absence % Unauthorised absence

England % Attendance % Authorised absence % Unauthorised absence






94.3 4.7 1.0

94.4 4.9 0.8

93.7 5.5 0.8

94.6 4.7 0.7

94.23 5.02 0.75






93.9 5.6 0.5

94.2 5.4 0.4

94.2 5.4 0.4

94.5 5.1 0.4

94.57 5.0 0.43






91.6 6.4 2.0

92.0 6.1 1.9

91.2 7.1 1.7

92.3 6.4 1.3

92.28 6.59 1.14






90.9 8.0 1.1

91.3 7.6 1.1

91.7 7.2 1.1

91.9 6.9 1.1

92.18 6.57 1.25

Secondary Sector SCE % Attendance % Authorised absence % Unauthorised absence

England % Attendance % Authorised absence % Unauthorised absence


SCE - All Schools SCE


% Attendance % Authorised absence % Unauthorised absence % Absence

93.67 5.5 0.83 6.33

England - All Schools England


% Attendance % Authorised absence % Unauthorised absence % Absence

93.55 5.66 0.79 6.45