Lost Hours of Learning
Hours of learning lost due to absence from school
When staff talk about attendance percentages with parents or pupils, it can be difficult for them to understand why there are concerns. A child with 89% attendance at the end of an academic year will have missed 21 days of school (over four school weeks of learning missed).
Whilst 89% is a positive achievement in an examination/test, 89% attendance would warrant a significant level of concern.
In order to address this issue, the following table has been put together to support schools to talk to parents/carers/pupils about the amount of ‘learning hours lost’ as a result of a pupil’s absence. Parties need to be advised that, where a child does not attend school, they miss out on significant hours of learning opportunities (broadly calculated as 5 hours for every two sessions missed) which are unlikely to be covered again. This places a child at significant risk of falling behind their peers:
Processes for addressing attendance concerns – escalation and whole school approach
Using the above table, schools may put together a clear process by which cases of non-attendance may be progressed to ensure that persistent absentees are supported without delay. By setting clear thresholds within which support strategies will be put in place, schools can ensure a fair and consistent approach is adopted and can identify who, within the school staffing structure, will take responsibility for intervening once various thresholds are met. For example, identified staff could take responsibility for intervening with pupils once attendance reaches a certain level (e.g. where attendance is between 95% and 90%) and a threshold could be set to determine the point at which parents/carers will be invited into school to discuss
concerns about their child’s attendance (e.g. 91% or 90%). It is important to note that Head teachers and governors can be included in any escalation process which is put together so that all available staff are supporting pupils to attend school on a regular basis.
A whole school approach to school attendance matters is vital to ensure that pupils and parents/carers are aware of the high expectations that they are required to adhere to and the consequences that they will face if good/excellent attendance is not achieved. This should include an attendance rewards system which recognises those pupils with excellent and most improved attendance levels. Consideration should be given to how pupils with long term diagnosed medical conditions/disabilities will be praised for maintaining relatively high attendance levels, despite the challenges that they face as individuals. Reward policies should be inclusive and aim to motivate all pupils to strive to achieve the best possible attendance that they
are capable of.