The benefits of regular attendance
Regular school attendance is a key focus at Ipswich Academy because of the many ways it benefits our students.
One of the advantages of regular school attendance is academic success. Research shows pupils who attend school consistently are more likely to stay on track with their studies, grasp key concepts, and excel in examinations. Consistent attendance allows continuity of learning which is fundamental for academic achievement.
In 2019, 84% of UK pupils in Key Stage 2 who had 100% attendance achieved the expected standard, while only 40% of pupils who were persistently absent managed to hit their target.
The pattern continues through school. Students who didn’t achieve a grade of 4 to 9 in GCSE maths and English on average had missed 10 more days over the key stage compared to students who achieved grade 9 to 5 in the subject. It’s estimated just 17 missed school days per year will result in a drop in GCSE grade.
School is also crucial for developing social and emotional skills. Regular attendance allows students to form lasting friendships, engage in extracurricular activities, and develop essential interpersonal skills they’ll need in adult life.
Attendance also instils discipline and a sense of responsibility in students, and employers often look for people with these traits who can demonstrate reliability and commitment.
To help children who struggle with attendance effectively, we need a comprehensive whole-school approach that addresses the root causes. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution – we treat each case individually. As a Trust, some of the strategies we use are:
Focusing on Success
If students find lessons unengaging and irrelevant, they’re less likely to attend school, so we teach in a way that results in young people feeling they are doing something worthwhile, but also secure enough that they feel safe. This feeling of achievement then helps them become more engaged in lessons. We continually review what we do to find ways we can refine and improve, then share them across the Trust.
Parents have a crucial role in ensuring their child/children attend school regularly. We promote parental involvement through regular communication, parent-teacher meetings, and highlighting the importance of attendance for their child’s future.
Early Intervention and Support
Identifying attendance issues early on is essential for effective intervention. By establishing a supportive environment where students feel comfortable discussing their challenges we can implement early intervention and prevent prolonged absences. This can be done internally – we have a large pastoral team with extensive experience who work hard to understand the individual circumstances around students’ absences and create plans to overcome the challenges. Or it can be done with the support of external agencies, such as our partnership with Synergy Education and Welfare Services which is building on our existing school attendance process and procedures in school.
Recognising and rewarding good attendance can motivate students to attend school regularly. This includes attendance awards, certificates, or even small incentives to celebrate students with high or significantly improved attendance. Students with high or improved levels of attendance are recognised through our weekly and end of term celebration assemblies.
By having a range of support strategies available, and taking the time to understand each student’s particular situation, it’s possible to respond effectively and improve attendance. For example, after implementing a Soft Start room for students to come into at the start of the day with a member of the pastoral team, we are now seeing students come into school every day this year who didn’t attend school at all the previous year. This is just one of a number of strategies we use.
Through this work, we can help more students spend more time at school, so they are better educated and better prepared to succeed in their adult lives.