Ribbleton Avenue Methodist Junior School’s approach to supporting and improving school attendance.
The Strategic Approach
Ribbleton Avenue Methodist Junior School adopts the 5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice framework, this is modelled on the work of Professor Katherine Weare. The emphasis is on developing a school culture and climate which builds a sense of connectedness and belonging to ensure all children can attend school and thrive. The approach ensures we prioritise building solid working relationships with children / parents prior to any escalation. The staged approach we use ensures we identify triggers early that can lead to poor attendance issues such as mental health issues, lack of trust, communication and relationship breakdowns and the possible lack of networking opportunities both internal (in-school) and external (external agencies).
The Foundations framework has most recently been reviewed by the Department for Education. The Foundations framework received an excellent report following the four-day review.
“The Foundations approach is an excellent example of best practice; there are very clear and detailed systems and procedures in place to manage absence and attendance consistently”.
(Michelle O’Dell DFE Attendance Advisor March 2022)
Aims of the strategy
- Increase school Attendance and reduce Persistent Absence to meet set targets.
- Ensure Attendance is well managed within the school, with the appropriate level of resources allocated.
- Enable the school to make informed use of Attendance data to target interventions appropriately, focusing on the key demographic groups highlighted in the 2022 DFE paper.
-create an ethos within the school in which good attendance is recognised as the norm and every child/young person aims for excellent attendance.
-make attendance and punctuality a priority.
-set focused targets to improve individual attendance and whole school attendance levels.
-embed the 5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice framework which defines agreed roles and responsibilities and promotes consistency in carrying out designated tasks with respect to promoting attendance and punctuality.
-record and monitor attendance and absenteeism and apply appropriate strategies to minimise absenteeism.
-develop a systematic approach to gathering and analysing relevant attendance data.
-provide support, advice and guidance to; parents, children and young people and develop mutual cooperation between home and the school in encouraging good attendance and in addressing identified attendance issues.
Ribbleton Avenue Methodist Junior School follows the 5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice framework. The approach is evidence-informed and completely child-centred. Each Foundation is supported by 5 Key Performance Indicators, these are used to ensure the school can embed the Foundations framework and understand the strategic direction regarding attendance improvement.
The framework allows the school to understand the whole school approach to supporting and improving attendance, this is completely aligned to Ribbleton Avenue Methodist Junior School’s VALUES. We create welcoming environments to allow all children to gain a sense of belonging and ultimately achieve academically through regular school attendance.
The school policy is translated into practise through the processes and systems we follow. The escalated approach supports children at each stage, parents who do not engage with support understand why, at times, we must follow this process.
All staff receive attendance training to support the whole school approach, they understand their role in improving attendance. Certain staff are identified to engage in specialist training to continue to support families and children who work with external partners.
We use data information to support children as this allows us to understand the groups, and individuals, who require specific programmes of intervention. Reviewing each programme allows us to understand the effectiveness of support and change what is not working.
Finally, we train and support all staff to understand the ‘root cause’ of concerns. Staff use the wider curriculum to allow all children to feel valued and accept themselves. We celebrate attendance success and ensure children returning from long absence receive a planned transition.
The school has a fully embedded ethos in which excellent school attendance is expected, developed and nurtured. The escalated approach to supporting attendance is built on foundations of belonging and connectedness.
- KPI 1.1 - The Attendance Leader follows a structured framework for improving attendance. Aspirations and expectations for all children are ambitious and reinforced by staff.
- KPI 1.2 - The escalated approach is child-centred and supports children. The approach to improving attendance is consistently followed and built on solid foundations of connectedness and belonging.
- KPI 1.3 - The school environment ensures children feel accepted and respected. Familiar and consistent routines build a sense of security and safety for all children.
- KPI 1.4 - Pupil voice allows children to build a sense of belonging. The school builds close working relationships with children and families.
- KPI 1.5 - The Attendance Leader is challenged and supported appropriately by a Line Manager and link Governor for attendance.
The approach to improving attendance is built on clear policies, systems and processes. This ensures continuous and sustainable improvement drives attendance practice. The attendance policy is understood by all stakeholders and allows the school to set, and maintain, high expectations to improve the culture of attendance.
- KPI 2.1 - Systems and processes for making decisions to implement support within the school are clear. The school understands when to involve and refer to outside agencies.
- KPI 2.2 - A systems leadership approach supports continued attendance improvements. Progression and promotion within the school is clear and provides staff with the opportunities to develop.
- KPI 2.3 - The attendance policy communicates the approach towards supporting and improving attendance. The policy meets all statutory and legal requirements.
- KPI 2.4 - Other school policies supporting attendance improvements are reviewed focusing on actual impact.
- KPI 2.5 - The Attendance Leader has a manageable set of priorities to achieve targets identified in the Attendance Action Planning document.
The school prioritises developing a team of attendance experts, with a shared vision and core purpose. The Attendance Leader delivers bespoke training to support all staff to fully understand their role in improving attendance. External partnerships support attendance improvements through a multi-disciplinary approach for identified children and families.
- KPI 3.1 - Training supports staff to identify changes in behaviour or patterns of absence concerns. Staff understand their role in communicating any changes of concern.
- KPI 3.2 - The Attendance Leader has a clear understanding of where specific expertise exists across the school, and how this expertise can be used to share practice and develop future leaders.
- KPI 3.3 - The Attendance Leader and Line Manager meet regularly. Meetings systematically cover the different aspects of performance and improvement.
- KPI 3.4 - Identified school staff receive bespoke training to continue the work of external professionals.
- KPI 3.5 - External partnerships underpin early help support. Identified children are supported through a multi-disciplinary approach to improve attendance.
Data information and analysis direct resources proactively towards key demographic groups and identified individuals. The expert use of data analysis informs decision making at all levels. The attendance process ensures the Attendance Leader understands the reason for attendance concerns, these barriers can then be successfully supported and removed.
- KPI 4.1 - The Attendance Leader looks beyond headline data to understand variations and trends in performance. Key demographic groups are supported to close variations to other children.
- KPI 4.2 - The MIS system is used effectively to analyse data. Data information is shared widely and informs regular, honest and action focused conversations.
- KPI 4.3 - Early assessment provides an analysis of a child’s needs. Intervention programmes identifies precisely how children will be supported. The Attendance Leader plans reviews of the effectiveness of any programme.
- KPI 4.4 - Targeted interventions focus on; self-awareness, emotional literacy, self-motivation and social skills development to support improvements in attendance. This will prevent initially more minor mental health problems from escalating and becoming of major significance.
- KPI 4.5 - Performance and progress are benchmarked against national data and year on year attendance outcomes.
Connecting and belonging drives the school approach to supporting attendance. All staff are supported to understand 'deeper roots' regarding poor attendance concerns. The school has developed, and embedded, an effective rewards system to further drive attendance improvements and celebrate success.
- KPI 5.1 - The Attendance Leader recognises that poor attendance may stem from previously undisclosed causes, all of which are understood and supported.
- KPI 5.2 - The wider curriculum focuses on developing life skills to support all children. This approach proactively supports mental health and well-being concerns from escalating.
- KPI 5.3 - School Leaders view continued poor behaviour as a cause of distress. Early identification and intervention support children, reducing the risk of exclusion.
- KPI 5.4 - The school has an effective rewards system in place to support attendance improvements and celebrate success.
- KPI 5.5 - The Attendance Leader proactively identifies the needs, and support required, for children new to school or returning to school after a long absence, including exclusions.