1. Know your data! When is attendance at it's highest and lowest? Why?
2. Ensure everyone is on board and responsible for improving attendance.
3. Speak with the students and conduct student voice surveys on attendance.
4. Welcome, promote and encourage attendance - be proactive.
5. Engage with parents, carers and communities to drive change.
Interested in research?
Education Endowment Foundation (EEF: 2014). Teaching and learning toolkit. Retrieved from https://educationendowment
Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services, and Skills (OFSTED: 2018). Schools and colleges: Attendance in education and early years settings. https://www.gov.uk/
Working together to improve school attendance, (DfE: 2022). https://www.gov.uk/
Ainscow, M., Dyson, A., Goldrick, S., & West, M. (2016). Making schools effective for all: Rethinking the task. Routledge.
Gottfried, M. A., Fleming, J. S., & Gottfried, A. W. (2017). School attendance in secondary school: Influences of school, family, and peer contexts. Journal of Educational Research, 110(4), 395-408.
Higgins, S., Katsipataki, M., Kokotsaki, D., Coleman, R., Major, L. E., & Coe, R. (2014). The Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation teaching and learning toolkit. Education Endowment Foundation.
Teacher Talk: Why Attendance Matters!
Welcome to our educational blog. Here we explore all things pertinent to education, discuss current topics and provide tips, from research and educational experts, to aid practice.
In the realm of education, attendance is often viewed as a fundamental aspect of academic success. Numerous studies conducted in the United Kingdom have highlighted the importance of regular attendance in enhancing learning outcomes, fostering a positive school environment, and promoting overall student well-being.
So what is the significance of attendance in education?
Importantly, how does attendance both good and poor impact a student’s educational journey?
Research shows attendance to have an impact upon: Academic achievement; Engagement; Social and Emotional Aspects; Reducing the Gaps for Disadvantaged Students and Promoting a positive school environment.
Here we explore all five, with key academic research.
The Link Between Attendance and Academic Achievement
Research conducted by Ainscow and colleagues (2016) examined the relationship between attendance and academic achievement among primary and secondary school students in the UK. Their study revealed a clear positive correlation between attendance rates and academic performance. Students with higher attendance rates consistently exhibited better grades and achieved greater levels of attainment. This suggests that consistent attendance is a key factor in facilitating learning and maximising educational outcomes.
The Influence of Attendance on Learning Engagement:
Attendance plays a crucial role in promoting student engagement and active participation in the learning process. According to the findings of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) report by Higgins et al. (2014), regular attendance in schools contributes to increased student engagement, which, in turn, positively impacts learning outcomes. Students who attend classes regularly are more likely to be actively involved in classroom discussions, interact with peers, and take advantage of educational opportunities, thereby enhancing their overall learning experience.
The Social and Emotional Benefits of Attendance:
In addition to academic advantages, regular attendance also fosters positive social and emotional development. A study by Gottfried and colleagues (2017) explored the relationship between attendance and social-emotional skills among primary school students in the UK. The researchers found that students with consistent attendance exhibited higher levels of social competence, self-regulation, and emotional well-being. Regular school attendance provides students with opportunities for social interactions, peer relationships, and emotional support from teachers, which are crucial for their holistic development.
Narrowing the Gap - Reducing Educational Inequalities:
Promoting regular attendance can also help address educational inequalities. The Education Policy Institute (EPI) conducted a study in 2017 that revealed a substantial correlation between socio-economic background and attendance rates. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to have lower attendance rates compared to their peers from more affluent backgrounds. By prioritising attendance and implementing targeted interventions, schools can help bridge this attendance gap, thus promoting equity and ensuring that all students have equal access to educational opportunities.
Promoting a Positive School Environment:
Attendance plays a pivotal role in creating a positive school culture and environment. A study by OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services, and Skills) conducted in 2018 found that schools with higher attendance rates tend to have a more positive and inclusive atmosphere. Regular attendance not only contributes to a sense of belonging and community within the school but also encourages positive relationships between students, teachers, and parents. A supportive and nurturing school environment further enhances students' well-being and motivation to learn.
Attendance: What can you do about it?
We spoke to Kate Richardson, Education Director of the Cabot Learning Federation as to why attendance is so crucial within education. Here’s what she had to say:
Attendance post-pandemic has been the described by Dame Rachel de Souza, Childrens’ Commissioner, as the ‘biggest problem’ facing education’.
The recent national focus is meaning that further resources, suggestions and support is being offered to some schools and families, with more to come as highlighted in the Government’s consultation response on attendance (May 2022). In our trust, Cabot Learning Federation, based in the South-West, we are learning about what works best, with some success in approaches to privilege our most vulnerable pupils, with the premise that if we get the conditions right for this group, then we will learn even more about supporting all pupils to attend well every day.
We see attendance approaches working best when everyone in an academy knows and takes responsibility for the part that they play in ensuring pupils attend every day – from site teams knowing about how safe pupils feel in different parts of the building and improving the environment, to an encouraging ‘see you tomorrow!’ to a disengaged student, followed up with a phone call home, from a leader on the school gate at the end of the day. We support our academies to embed a positive attendance culture through ensuring that responsibility is lived, felt and demonstrated by all colleagues, working together to support pupils to attend every day. We also know that our attendance is varied across the school week in different academies, and we use our data to tell us about patterns of attendance, so that we can follow up with voice from our students about their attendance. This key piece of work has told us lots about what students do and don’t enjoy and the best ways to secure their attendance every day. One of our academies has a founding value that school is the best party in town – when we get the conditions right, pupils don’t want to miss it!
We are shifting our approaches from reactive to proactive, through the sharing of best practice within our networks of colleagues across the trust – and are always finding new and innovative ways to get ahead and ensure that we an secure good attendance on days where we know this might be particularly challenging. For example, if we know it will be raining the day after a holiday, and that a few families or students might find it hard to come in, we personally text parents the night before making clear how excited we are to see them, and providing a number to all if they have any problems.
Finally, we have learned that underpinning all our approaches with a principle of strong relationships with pupils and families, is the best way to bring about positive change. At CLF we want our approach to build status, raise esteem and support a sense of belonging within our school communities, so that pupils feel the pull-factor and share their challenges with us so that we can work together with them as a team to support.
So does attendance matter?
Quite simply - Yes!
Academic research consistently emphasises the vital role that attendance plays in education. From its positive impact on academic achievement and learning engagement to its influence on social-emotional development and the reduction of educational inequalities, regular attendance emerges as a critical factor for student success. By understanding the significance of attendance and implementing strategies to promote regular attendance, schools can create an inclusive and supportive environment that maximises students' potential.
CTSH 'Together Towards Excellence'