Working Together to improve school attendance – 6 steps to managing lateness

Primary school children attending school, wearing school uniforms and backpacks, running on a walkway.

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Primary school children attending school, wearing school uniforms and backpacks, running on a walkway
Effective schools have rigorous processes in place to manage day to day absence and punctuality.
Schools must set out in their attendance policy when their registers will close, and a pupil will be marked absent. This must be the same for each session and can be no longer than the length of form time or 30 minutes or first lesson in which registration takes place.

So what can schools do to manage lateness effectively?

1)      High Expectations

It is important for schools to demonstrate high expectations around attendance and punctuality to all students. There should, therefore, be an expectation that all staff are punctual to lessons and that staff model the expectations expected for students.
 
2)      Create a welcoming environment

All school staff, including senior leaders should be visible in school to meet and greet students and to ensure any early morning concerns are addressed quickly. Within this, lies an element of professional curiosity -why is this child late every morning? Or why does this child look dishevelled/tired/hungry.

3)      Consider the use of late gates and increase parent awareness

Schools can also improve lateness using late gates and by highlighting to parents the negative impact ongoing lateness can have on a pupil’s attainment in school and in the time, it may take for that pupil to settle into class each day.  

For older pupils’ parents may not be aware of late arrival to school as the pupil walks alone or with friends to school and therefore a friendly phone call home to make them aware of this can be enough to address lateness causes.

4)      Provide support for parents where needed.

Parental phone calls to discuss lateness may also highlight issues around morning routines, sleep, or travel arrangements that school can work with parents to address. This may be via offers of parenting classes or by providing helpful idea’s e.g., getting dressed to music – can they dress before the song ends; wake-up text alerts sent by school to parents/students where lateness is an issue.

Support may also be financial -for example, buying an alarm clock for a family to support with waking up on time.

Many children find it hugely embarrassing to arrive late in the morning and see all heads turn as they arrive at the classroom -this can lead to anxiety and absences in the longer term so should be tackled robustly when a problem is identified.  
 
5)      Consider involving the local community

Support from people within the local community can be useful to discuss the importance of good punctuality (and attendance). Consider inviting in local business people to discuss what happens if someone is late for work regularly or using school governors to stress the importance of good punctuality.
 
6)      Give pupils a reason to come to school

For some pupils have a job or task to do first thing in the morning can support them to be punctual every day. For example, if a pupil is in school on time they get to be the milk monitor that day.
It is also important for staff to remind pupils with poor punctuality or attendance of the exciting things that will be happening the next day so that they have a reason to be in on time.

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Dates for DfE webinars announced.

The DfE have released a series of dates over the next few months to support the implementation of the “Working Together to Improve School Attendance”

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