Attendance - why it matters

Excellent school attendance is essential if your child is to make good progress both academically and socially and be prepared for life beyond secondary school. Good home routines are important in helping your child be ready to learn and supporting the expectation that it is normal to attend school five days a week.

Our expectation is that parents and carers will work in partnership with the school to ensure that your child is in school, in lessons and learning. Our staff will support where there are circumstances or barriers that may affect good attendance.

Why does school attendance matter? Missing a few days of school here and there may not seem a big deal, but research shows that it can have a significant impact on children's learning. Children who miss a substantial amount of school fall behind their peers, and struggle to catch up. Most of the work they miss is never made up, which can lead to big gaps in their learning.

Poor attendance often starts at primary school, and children who fall into this pattern are likely to underachieve at secondary school. Pupils who miss between 10 and 20% of school (that’s 19 to 38 days per year) stand only a 35% chance of achieving good GCSEs, compared to 73% of those who miss fewer than 5% of school days.

Friendships can be affected by persistent absence, too: it can be hard for a child who misses lots of school to form relationships with their classmates

What to do if you child is unwell

However, should your child be absent then please do inform the school on each day of the absence. Thank you to parents/carers that are using Class Charts to report absence. Please be reminded that the school’s acknowledgement of an absence message does not automatically authorise the absence.

Factors to support good attendance

Building good routines

Having consistent good attendance helps students develop a positive view of school and the importance of attendance. Routines can help families with the busyness of the mornings during the school week. Set an early bedtime to ensure rest for the school day. Follow a night time routine:

  • Set a consistent alarm, leaving extra time for unexpected delays
  • Lay out clothing and supplies for the next day
  • Check school bag before bedtime, planner, pencil case, Yondr pouch, homework etc
  • Place school bag and shoes near the door
  • Have a back-up plan in case of transportation challenges

The importance of sleep

There are any number of studies show that students with better sleep patterns and sleep routines attend better and achieve better in school. Building good routines and ‘bedtimes’ is crucial.

What happens if there are repeated absences?

If there are repeated absences that have not been authorised by the school then that it turn may lead to involvement from the Education Welfare Service. To that end please see below a message from Caroline Holt, the school’s Education Welfare Officer.

How to avoid meeting me!

Caroline Holt, Education Welfare Officer, Wiltshire Council.

I am the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) working with Wyvern St Edmunds Academy and have been an EWO for 12 years. You are probably thinking why have I got to read this? I won’t meet her! Well, you have a child at Wyvern St Edmunds Academy and therefore I would like to explain a few things to ensure we don’t meet.

My role is to uphold the law regarding school attendance to support every pupil to access the best education possible to maximise their options in life. It is the legal responsibility of every parent to make sure their child receives an education either by attendance at a school or by education otherwise than at a school. Where parents decide to have their child registered at school, they have an additional legal duty to ensure their child attends that school regularly. I act on unauthorised absences. Unauthorised absence is where the school decides that the reason provided for absence is not acceptable. If a pupil has a genuine reason for not being in school, I will not be involved. In my experience low attendance is often an indication of other issues going on in that child’s life.

Wyvern St Edmunds Academy has an effective system in place to address attendance. For example, if a pupil is absent from school, then the parent needs to notify the school of the reason every day, they are absent. If you don’t inform the school, they will unauthorize the absence. Please be honest. If your child is refusing to go to school, then tell school that. This will give a clearer picture of how that young person is feeling and help the school to offer you the right support.  So, a quick call/email to school may prevent seeing me.

A lot of parents find it difficult to get their child motivated in the morning. Home routines, stopping use of IT or mobile phones late at night and rewards or sanctions for attendance are very useful strategies to turn things around. If you are invited to a meeting in school, then please do your best to attend. A frank, open discussion is often all that is needed. If school have tried holding meetings and nothing has changed, they will refer your child to me. I will then hold a meeting and meet you and your child to see what can be done to turn things around. I ask for everyone to be honest in my meetings and will do all I can to identify the issues and get support for the young person.

Ultimately non-attendance is a strict liability offence.  In law the only proof required is a lack of regular attendance. Prosecution is a last resort where all other routes have been exhausted or deemed inappropriate. If a prosecution comes to court, then a fine is likely to be imposed and this can be up to £1,000 plus costs for a first offence. None of us want that: school, EWO, parents and the pupil involved can work together to avoid it.

The Academy have my contact details if a parent wishes to speak to me. I look forward to not meeting you.

Caroline Holt.