Teaching and learning for attendance
Find out how high-quality teaching can help to raise attendance levels. Reviewing attendance through the use of data and other information will help you to identify any groups of learners whose progress is affected by absence.
If subject teachers and curriculum leaders want to have the maximum impact on pupil progress, they will be actively engaged in teaching for attendance. Learners will be far more engaged with a lesson when it is of high quality.
Ask learners what motivates them to attend and what puts them off attending school. Common reasons for absence include:
- not liking a particular subject
- finding a lesson boring
- being in a lesson where learning is disrupted by inappropriate behaviour.
Teachers can improve learner motivation by making sure that they:
- have high expectations of punctuality agreed with learners so that lessons start on time
- use purposeful, brief and engaging lesson starters that include a competitive or otherwise motivating element
- use plenaries that 'hook' into the next lesson
- share the sequence of lessons with learners, so they can review any missed work
- have strategies to support absent learners, for example buddies to explain work missed, 'catch-up cards' and worksheets available on the school intranet.
Using data and other information
Refer to the next section in this area, Using data and information to review attendance, to help you build a profile of attendance across your school and to identify the issues within your own context.
Analyse the impact attendance has on learners' progress. If learners are at risk of falling behind, agree how they can be supported and encouraged. In particular you should consider:
- vulnerable groups
- learners who are eligible for free school meals
- learners with special educational needs.
You could also consider whether there are any significant patterns of attendance and punctuality across subject areas. If such patterns exist, share this information with subject leaders, discuss possible causes and agree actions to be taken.
Curriculum leaders and pastoral staff will find it helpful to communicate and share actions to improve attendance. Any information linking learners' absence with their progress can then be shared with appropriate school staff, the learners and parents/carers.
- What worked in one LA
LAs, groups of schools in partnership and individual schools have undertaken some exciting developmental work aimed at improving outcomes for learners by focusing on enhancing social and emotional skills. This is an example of such work.
In Sutton LA the Making Good Progress in Mathematics Project was implemented in ten schools across the LA, where the percentage of pupils not making two levels of progress in their schools was 20 per cent or more.
The following eight key elements were particularly successful at improving practice:
- focusing on what makes ‘good’ mathematics teaching
- using Carroll diagrams to assist with identifying pupils' expectations
- becoming more confident with level 4 and level 5 standards
- planning targeted, guided groups
- drawing on pupils’ feedback from surveys carried out
- promoting Talk for Learning
- building on teachers’ subject knowledge
- pinpointing barriers and exploring strategies to overcome them.
Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) supported this approach to improvement by promoting positive attitudes towards mathematics and using ‘mistakes’ as a positive teaching tool. Feedback received was positive and pupils became more confident. There was strong qualitative evidence of the improvement in pupils’ attitudes in the summer 2010 attitude survey compared to that of autumn 2009.
The SEAL-supported approach had the following impact:
- eleven per cent increase in pupils gaining two levels of progress in 2010 across the ten schools involved
- ten per cent increase in pupils achieving level 4 or above; level 5 remained the same in 2010 across the ten schools
- in 2009 four schools were below the national floor targets of 65 per cent; in 2010 none were
- mathematics results in Sutton primary schools were the highest ever with 86 per cent of pupils achieving level 4 or above.