WEEK 11 - Friday 24 November 2023
We all know that attendance of students to school is still a long way short of where it was before the pandemic and we are only now beginning to understand some of the complex reasons behind this apparent breakdown in the social contract between home and school. Amanda Spielman addressed this issue in her annual Ofsted report yesterday before she steps down as HMCI. At Hessle, our attendance is also stubborn and still lags behind where it was back in 2019. Roughly speaking, it has fallen from 95% to a little over 90% which doesn’t seem like much but is essentially a doubling of absence, and a doubling of all of the consequences of student absence.
And the consequences of not attending school are huge.
Firstly, there is the academic impact; students with attendance below 90% (just one day off per fortnight) are three times as likely to miss their targets as those students with good attendance. This closes the door on a range of educational opportunities and means that young people can be playing ‘catch up’ for years to acquire the skills and qualifications they need to secure good and rewarding employment.
Secondly, there is the social and emotional impact. Students who regularly miss school, also miss their friends, classmates and teachers. A break from the social norms causes young people anxiety – they've missed out on conversations, gossip and the twists and turns of being a teenage student in school. This then makes them more likely to miss school again and becomes a downward spiral of absence and anxiety.
And finally, attendance – or non-attendance – becomes a habit. If you do not create the expectation that you will start the day positively and with structure and routine, you will find it a difficult thing to create later in life. We seek to instil these habits in our students and thank you for your support in doing so.
To tackle this ‘doubling of absence’, we are doing our best to increase our capacity. We have recruited two additional staff on a part-time morning basis to handle calls, chase up absent students and to make home visits. We are funding this from the last year of the Government’s Recovery Premium and it is beginning to take effect.
If you feel you would benefit from support to help your child attend school more regularly or you are finding it harder to support them to school, please contact us as soon as possible.
As I write this on Thursday afternoon, one of the smaller School Christmas Trees has just been taken from its store cupboard near my office – the first sign that we are getting nearer to yet another Christmas season. We finish school late this term (last day is Thursday 21 December) so there is still a long way to go but the weekends are fast disappearing and school events are taking on a more seasonal flavour. The staff at Hessle are very much in two camps; those that are putting their tree up this weekend, or those that are waiting until next weekend. The Groaks are definitely in the latter camp and ours will be going up next Sunday afternoon after Mrs Groak returns from the school trip to Lille.
Have a lovely weekend and thank you for your ongoing support.