Students tend to fall into patterns of poor attendance for a variety of different reasons: genuine ill health, parents who don’t enforce attendance, parents who can’t enforce attendance, fear of school, frustration with not having their needs met .. the list is long. To explore which ones are the biggest factor in your school, make your attendance officer a brew sometime and ask them to tell you about your Persistent Absentees. It won’t be a wasted discussion and will help you get a wider understanding of the specific attendance issues of your cohort.
As a classroom teacher there is an awful lot you can do to support students with attendance issues. Most crucial is that you need to help them retain their dignity. One of the most common bits of feedback we have from PA students or school refusers is the belief they will be shamed, humiliated or “had a go” at when they return. Helping them to retain their dignity and re-adjust to being back will help prevent further absence down the line.
|Welcome them back into your classroom in a warm and genuine manner. Do this privately.||Use the phrase “nice of you to join us” or make a big show of them being back.|
|Respect their privacy.||Ask them to explain where they have been in front of the whole class.|
|Reassure them that you can work together to get the work caught up.||Overwhelm them with the amount of work they have to catch up or load it all on them at once.|
|Create an opportunity for them to be successful in the first lesson back while retaining their dignity.||Set students up to fail or disbar them from doing the same activities as the rest of the class. Nothing will make them feel more isolated and less likely to want to return!|
|When students miss a lesson, stick sheets or key resources in their book under the date and title for the lesson.||Fall into the trap of doing all of their catch up for them. They need to accept ownership and responsibility for their learning too.|
|If a student has missed a significant chunk of learning, be proactive with planning how this will be addressed. Work with their pastoral or achievement leader, form tutor or parents to make a workable plan. Communicate with the student as you go||Write off a student who has missed large chunks of the course. It ain’t over til the fat lady sings!|