We need to talk about… school absence

Posted on 04 January 2019 in attendance

According to the Department for Education, the overall absence rate has increased from 4.5% to 4.7% in the past two years, with one in 10 absent school children classed as persistently absent.

With absence rates on the rise, the subject of attendance remains a hot topic on parents’ evening, in the school office and during staff meetings. For those persistently absent students, it’s important to approach the issue sooner rather than later. However, convincing parents of the importance of school attendance can be hard work, and a conversation on truancy and absence can be tricky to approach.

How best to talk about truancy with parents?

We’ve put together a few tips for productive and helpful communications on one of the most important topics of school life…

– Provide parents with all the information they need to understand the importance of school attendance; this includes the law, the impact on a student’s education and the risks and repercussions on parents themselves. This could be communicated at the start of the school year in newsletters, on the school website, social media and school reports.

– Be clear about the acceptable reasons for a child to be off school, ensuring parents understand they must still communicate with your school about any occasions their child will be absent (i.e. illness, hospital or doctor appointments, issues at home etc).

– Inform parents regularly of their child’s attendance and make sure parents understand that they have the right to know about their child’s absences; provide guidance on how parents can request this information.

– Talk about why attendance matters; explain why homework can’t make up for valuable time lost in the classroom and how, with a jam-packed curriculum, every lesson counts. It’s as equally important for students to spend time together, learning to work and socialise with their peers.

– Make support, resources and information available and easy to access. Often, truancy is due to a pupil experiencing difficulties in school, as a result of bullying, struggles with their work or for other equally sensitive reasons.

– Approach the subject out of concern rather than compliance; ensure families understand that the staff team will provide any support they can to make the student feel happy and comfortable in school.

Maintain regular contact at a time convenient for the parent, in which the parent is kept up to date on their child’s attendance. Do what you can to keep the line of communication open between home and school following the initial conversation.

Truancy Call is proven to support schools to not only reduce unauthorised absence, but free up valuable staff time by performing first-day contact on behalf of the school. This means no more phone calls to make, texts to send or emails to write up, saving you time and money whilst improving attendance.

With data drawn dynamically from your school’s MIS, Truancy Call identifies those students who are absent or late. Schools also have the option to filter the data down further, allowing you to remove parents or guardians who don’t require messages.

Truancy Call receives over a third of parental responses out of school hours, allowing hard-to-reach and busy parents to engage with your school at a time convenient for them, improving responses and strengthening school/home relationships in the long term. Truancy Call is also free for parents, ensuring total social inclusivity when it matters most.

To find out more or to arrange a demo, please contact our friendly team today on 03333 131415.