I was reading this article in the Guardian Unlimited this morning about 1 in 5 pupils play truant from school in England. In East Lothian we have taken significant measures to try and reduce the level of truancy in our schools. One of the ways that we have done this is by using Truancy Call and automated system that will text or phone patents is their son / daughter does not register in the mornings. This has help significant reduce the levels of truancy within the secondary sector (I’m not sure if they use the same system for primary?).
Attendance is directly related to attainment. Looking at the examination results last year it was clear that the few pupils that left Musselburgh Grammar School with fewer than 5 Standard Grades (1-6) were low attendees. Were as our many successful candidates had a high attendance.
As well as truancy call and our guidance staff chasing absence discrepancies the school has put in other mechanisms to help maintain high levels of attendance. One of the systems is the merit certificate where students are awarded for perfect or near perfect attendance during the year (they also get a pen!). The other successful system in the ‘breakfast bus’. Each morning the school minibus goes around and picks up about a dozen pupils who have difficulties coming into school. There is also an opportunity for pupils to get their breakfast when they arrive.
I am interested to find out the other mechanisms that schools have put in place to help ensure high attendance. Marie Stubbs had some interesting ideas on this during her presentation at SETT – my favourite suggestion was ‘you just have to make the children want to come to school!’ let me know your ideas.