Attendance Matters

Activity description

We know regular attendance at school can have a meaningful impact on student wellbeing and academic achievement, as well as creating a foundation for future success.

The purpose of this video is to showcase resources and strategies to support improved attendance in schools.

The video is broken into three parts:

  1. A review of data from the Scout Attendance and Engagement dashboard to reflect on a tiered framework of strategies to support attendance;
  2. A demonstration on how to use the tiered framework and data to map your school attendance procedures to meet policy and address school identified areas for improvement; and
  3. Ways to celebrate excellent and improved attendance.

For more information, visit Attendance Matters.

Attendance matters overview

Attendance Matters Video Transcript

Student 1:

It’s really important to turn up to school because you learn new things and you meet new people.

Student 2:

Although I don’t really see the importance of it now, I know it will help me. If I’m being honest I can’t wait to get to the end of year 10 and then finally become a tradie.

Student 3:

I decide to come to school because I get to socialise with my friends and it also helps me learn new things so I can strive to be the smartest person I can be.

Introduction:

We know that regular attendance at school can have a meaningful impact on student wellbeing and academic achievement, as well as creating a foundation for future success.

As the two student videos show, our students come to school for a variety of reasons. Our role is to understand the factors that influence attendance at our school, and to create a school environment that is welcoming, engaging and promotes life-long learning.

The purpose of this video is to showcase resources and strategies to support improved attendance.

Firstly, we’ll look at data from the Scout Attendance and Engagement dashboard to reflect on a tiered framework of strategies to support attendance. Next, we’ll demonstrate how to use the tiered framework and data to map your school attendance procedures to meet policy and address school identified areas for improvement. Finally, we share ways to celebrate excellent and improved attendance.

All of the resources used today are available from the Attendance Matters – resources for schools web page. This is great to link back to if you’re reflecting on the School Excellence Framework and undertaking your Strategic Improvement Plan.

Student 4:

I think coming to school is important because it can help you get a good job in life and allows you to become whatever you want when you grow up.

I can get help from my teachers for whatever I want and I can see my friends everyday.

Using Scout Data

We’ll now look at an overview of the tiered attendance framework and how it links to your Scout attendance data.

The information in this section can be found on the department’s public page in the Attendance Matters – resources for schools section.

Delve a little deeper into Attendance Matters by scrolling down the page. There is a page dedicated to Attendance Strategies.

This, in part, is what we will go through now. We will then discuss how we can link these strategies with Scout.

Whole school attendance modelled on a tiered framework of support and intervention and tailored to the school community, creates a positive environment for engagement and learning.

This tiered approach supports schools to:

• foster regular attendance by establishing a positive and welcoming school culture for all students

• address attendance concerns by identifying and providing targeted strategies for students or cohorts needing more support

• re-engage students with learning by providing tailored interventions for students with significant support needs.

On the webpage, we break down the tiers into universal, targeted and individual, much like PBL use. We have given you a framework of what each approach can look like, who is involved in actioning the approach and what strategies you can use to foster attendance.

For example, if we look at the Scout Attendance Dashboard, and the School Report, we can see 919 students are enrolled. Only 7.5% of students are attending school more than 90% of the time.

What I like about this dashboard is that all your attendance information is in one place and you can easily see where the challenges lie. It’s easy to see that 15% of students sit in the 85-90% range for attendance and it would be this group you’d probably target improving attendance first.

If you recall back on the main page for Attendance Matters, the top banner leads you to Strategic Attendance Planning. This is a great tool to help guide schools through analysing and then implementing strategies. Pop on over and have a look with your team.

So, looking at the data on this dashboard, and guided by the Strategic Attendance Planning, you might want to implement some strategies to foster student attendance. You might already implement many of the strategies I’m about to reveal, you may even have more ideas. If you do, let us know at attendance@det.nsw.edu.au and we can add them to the list!

Here are some universal strategies that you may want to consider:

· Having policy knowledge and understanding

· Taking a teams approach to fostering attendance

· Community support

· Promotion of attendance, setting high expectations

· Seek out the attendance support team

· Recognising success

· Having supportive programs at school

· School being a place where every student is known, valued and cared for.

The cohort information shows us patterns of behaviour for specific groups of children. You can choose from year groups, gender, class groups or cultural backgrounds.

Here’s some ideas of targeted strategies you might want to consider when looking at improving attendance for cohorts:

· Work with the student and family

· Building a supportive environment

· Tabling attendance at Learning Support meetings

· Developing plans with student voice

· Seeking out the Attendance support team

· Involve other supporting staff, such as career advisers

· Supportive programs at school

· And again, having a school where every student is known, valued and cared for.

The student page on Scout looks at the attendance for the individual student. You may have seen in third party providers such as Sentral, a detailed table such as the one in the middle of the screen. It’s great for at-a-glance analysis and for delving more deeply into non-attendance patterns of behaviour.

Here are some ideas of individual strategies you might want to consider to re-engage students with school and learning:

· Again it’s working with the student and family

· Building a supportive environment

· Holding face to face meetings

· Developing plans with student voice

· Seeking out the Attendance support team

· And at this point, it could be seeking support from agencies who can come in and provide experience with programs.

·

· Principal Interview:

Hello, I’m Principal of the Bidgee School, started in 2006 initially as a 3 classes behaviour school. We’ve evolved and really rebranded over a period of time. Our trauma informed approach, along with our increase in size… as of next year we’ll now be eight classes – particularly supporting young people recovering from trauma.

Our approach is purely relational. We understand with any young person and particularly young people that have experienced trauma, that connections and positive strong relationships is the key. If we can’t engage young people to an extent where they want to be here, obviously then you’re seeing the attendance issues. So, a relational approach, is about that strong relationship. That real sense of belonging and connection to the school.

As many other schools do, we provide breakfasts, we provide clothes, doctors appointments, you know – support for families. All of that, that is quite common amongst schools.

And look, just some examples of how we do that relationally is often we have young people come that haven’t been attending regularly they’re mainstream school, so when they start to come here, if we’ve had trouble engaging with families, we’ll do things like taking photos of them enjoying and engaging in activities, we’ll write letters, we’ll send them out with either the AEO or the community liaison officer to visit the families. So that they’ve actually got something concrete to talk about and show and build upon again that real positive connection with the school so they can see the young person is enjoying what they’re doing.

If we can get them here, we’ll make sure that we put them with, and they get a chance to engage with, staff that they have a particularly strong relationship with. We’ll negotiate activities that they may get to do with them, and it’s about coming back and really getting to experience that positive. Wanting to create again, that safe place and that positive place that they want to be at. And that’s kept some of our older students coming for well beyond when they would have been previously.

With all students, that’s just so critical. With our older students we actually, we do, we can talk to them on the phone and we can say “what would you like to do?” And I know, you know with particularly some of our indigenous students they’re very strongly connected to some of our indigenous staff. So, if they would like to come and particularly do, or “could I spend some time with ...” and they might name the staff member – absolutely! So, we incorporate the learning, with their voice, who they’ve nominated, and really capitalise on those strong relationships and bonds that those students have already formed.

With the increase in size, we’ve found that it’s quite a load for our dogs. They’re very popular. We actually utilise them in the classrooms to teach about empathy and emotional regulation, and reducing heart rate. You know, there’s a whole series of lessons that we have around them, so we need to ensure that they also have enough down time, so having the three always ensures that there’s always someone that’s around that’s on duty and someone’s resting. But they’re a very popular means of young people wanting to come and engage and often I have a lot of young people in my office, quite regularly, and they come in and they’ll check in with the dogs and we’ll sit and have a chat at the same time and that’s a really encouraging way, and I know we’ve had placement panel last week and we’ve had 5 young people placed and every single one of them absolutely loves animals and has been whilst very anxious about attending a new school, that’s really been the point that’s encouraged them to initially come because they will at least come in and meet the dogs. And they’ll come and do that and then you just see that whole demeanour change.

A young person came in yesterday actually and his father said, he’s in year 3, and his father said “I can’t believe it, he never, it doesn’t matter how hot it is, he never takes his jumper off”. And it’s around that protection and that feeling of needing those layers to feel safe. He was here 15 minutes and sitting with the dogs and just, really you could see that he hadn’t even thought about it. And he just reached up and pulled the jumper over his head and took it off and his father, whilst that may to you or I – I didn’t even notice, his father just said “that is absolutely incredible, he just not taken that jumper off, it has not mattered what the temperature is”. So, they’re a great means of comfort and support.

If you’d like to learn more about these strategies or attend a Scout Showcase, just head to the Attendance Matters page for more information.

Student 5:

When I don’t come to school I miss the instructions on how to do the work and I find it really difficult to catch up on my own.

Using Process Maps:

When analysing Scout attendance data at your school, you may find there are some concerns that arise which affect a particular group of students, an entire cohort or simply those that appear regularly, requiring the same intervention each time.

In this instance, we are looking at a cohort of students.

It is helpful to use these opportunities to develop resources that support staff to manage concerns using consistent processes. We have developed examples of process maps which may be relevant to situations that arise in your school. We also recognise that every school is unique. For this reason, a process map template is also available to be used with your school staff to problem solve issues in the context of your local area.

Let’s take a closer look at a process map.

A ‘required action’ is one which must be completed. It is usually related to policies or procedures and are ‘must do’s’ to mitigate risk.

A ‘recommended action’ is an additional strategy that may be undertaken to further support the required actions and improve the outcome of the presenting issue.

The ‘expected outcomes’ section explains where to next, other resources or training that might be appropriate to reduce the incidence of the same situation.

Sample completed process maps, as well as the editable process map template, are available on the Attendance Matters – resources for schools webpage.

Student 6:

It’s important to come to school everyday because on the days that I’m not here something interesting always happens and then I have to miss out on that, so I come to school everyday so I don’t miss anything.

Recognising Attendance:

We know for some students, it is important to recognise their attendance. It helps foster that positive connection to school and encourages improved attendance. This could be as simple as a warm welcome as they come into the classroom, or perhaps an email or letter home to their parent or acknowledgement at assembly.

Student 7:

I get to see my friends which I really like spending time with. I don’t like missing out on school. Staying on top of all my work. Setting myself up for the future with making friends and getting experience of future jobs.

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