Parental / Carer update – 1stOctober 2018
WCSA Attendance by Mrs. Venn, Assistant Principal
This week’s update from Worle is about attendance at WCSA.
Having made rapid improvements with outcomes and behaviour in school, we are now turning our full attention to attendance. For a school to be rated as good it has to achieve at least the National Average for Attendance. For a secondary school that is 94.6%. Last year, we finished just over 94%. This is something we are really hoping to improve this year and I am hoping we can all work together to improve this as it requires a concerted effort from everyone.
All students (and staff!) started the year with 100% attendance. This is something that we would like all students to maintain for as long as possible. As I write staff attendance is currently at 97% and students almost 96%. It would be wonderful if students could match the staff! Just last week Miss Scott and I met all students who had managed to achieve 100% last year. We congratulated them on this and awarded them with a 100% attendance badge. You can see a small selection of students who were awarded this honour here.
We are aware that there are mixed feelings nationally about celebrating 100% achievement. Things happen in life that cannot be controlled; illness or bereavement being just a few examples. We understand this and this is why we set a school target of 96% for all students by the end of the year. We allow them to track this weekly in tutor time so they can see what their attendance is at any point in time. We also want them to feel valued for coming to school. There is a competitive element in all year groups, with Heads of Year producing a weekly presentation that ranks the tutor groups and the highest attending tutor group winning a prize each Learning Cycle. We continue to link the weekly percentages to the languages ladder so students know what their figure means in practice.
Why is attendance so important?
Research clearly tells us that attendance and success are linked. 17 days off school leads to students receiving, on average, a whole GCSE grade lower in each subject.We also need to think strongly about preparing students for life after school. We live in an ever competitive and commercial world. Frequent periods of absence are not expected and at work you could expect to be put on an action plan.
As the days grow shorter, we are approaching the time of year when illnesses become more frequent. In our attendance policy, which you can find on the school website, we offer the following advice about whether students need a day off school:
· Will this illness prevent my child learning at school today?
· When was the last time your child was absent from school?
· Could there be another reason why they don’t want to be in school?
· As a parent/carer would I take a day off work for the same condition?
Common conditions such as headaches, colds, periods and sore throats can be treated with over the counter pain relief and students should be able to attend school. Often, students feel ‘better’ later in the morning. In that case they can still come into school in time for the afternoon registration. Every session really does count and helps to close valuable gaps in learning.
Sickness bugs can also be rife in secondary schools. If a student has vomited and the parent/carer is aware of the reason and know that this is not related to a sickness bug, students can attend school. There is no 48 hour rule for students to be absent from school. However, we do ask common sense should be applied.
As with everything, we seek to reward students who get it right most of the time. Last year, the Rewards’ Trip to Thorpe Park in Julywas a great success and we had many students who delighted in taking part. We will be running this initiative again this year with the following criteria:
· An average attendance of 96%
· Fewer than 4 lates to school (which are beyond your control);
· Fewer than 10 conduct incidents;
· No serious behaviour incidents (such as FTE or Room 1);
· An average effort grade of 3 or above on PS3.
If a student has a genuine medical appointment that cannot be arranged out of school hours, please provide us with a copy of the appointment letter. We will then ensure this does not count towards the attendance figure for the trip.
We will also be sending home a print out of the attendance card with each Praising Stars Report so that parents can have a full overview of the attendance figure.
Attendance is an area where it is hard to have initiatives that play to everyone’s strengths. All of us can need time off for one reason or another at some point. The attitude we are trying to instil in students is that they only take a day off when it is really necessary and they come back as soon as possible.
We are always looking for new ways to improve so if you have any good ideas please do let me know.