The UK government found that the persistent absence rate for this academic year is 23.4%, which is a fifth of the student body. What can be done to address this?
In February 2023, the UK government reported that 10% or so of students were absent every week. Only 4.9% of absences were legitimately excused. Accordingly, there is one absent student for every ten students. This is concerning. Attendance is crucial for a number of reasons.
Importance of attendance
Academic success: Regular attendance at school enables students to acquire relevant information and skills. Regular attendance increases the likelihood that they will complete their assignments on time and receive higher grades. Students who attend class regularly develop sound study habits and self-discipline.
Socialization: Students have the chance to interact with their peers, teachers, and other members of the school community when they attend class. Students gain social skills, relationships, and a sense of community through this interaction.
Future success: A student's future success depends on regular attendance at school. Regular attendance at school helps students develop crucial abilities like time management, accountability, and responsibility. All of these skills are necessary for success in both higher education and the workforce. This is supported by research that showed that regularly absent kindergarteners had trouble staying in school in high school and even at work years later.
Legal requirements: Up until a certain age, attending school is required by law in many nations. Regular absences from school may have legal repercussions for both the student and the parents.
Health and safety: Attending class can also improve a student's mental and emotional health. Regular attendance guarantees that students receive the necessary medical care, including immunisations and health exams. Additionally, returning to school gives students a supervised and safe environment during the day.
With a multitude of worthwhile reasons to go. Why are there such high absenteeism rates?
Reasons for low attendance
Illness is among the most frequent causes of low attendance. This can apply to short-term ailments like the flu and the common cold, as well as chronic conditions that require ongoing care. According to the same study mentioned at the outset, illness is a major contributor to absenteeism. This percentage increased to 9.1% during the week beginning December 12th, 2022, from 2.6% at the beginning of the term. This was attributed to the weather conditions associated with the winter term.
Mental health: Mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions, can also be linked to poor attendance. According to a study by scientists at Swansea, Cardiff, and Cambridge Universities, students who have neurodevelopmental disorders, mental health issues, or who self-harm are more likely to miss class frequently.
Family problems: Family problems, such as taking care of a sick family member, problems with childcare, or a personal emergency, can also contribute to poor attendance.
Bullying: Children who experience bullying may find it difficult or frightening to return to school, which can affect their attendance. Bullying is becoming more commonplace; it now happens at schools and even on social media sites where the only option for a break or some breathing room is an extreme, chronic absence from school.
Lack of interest: Students who show little interest in their studies or in school may also have poor attendance. The difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the loss of a family member, have been the main cause of a lack of interest in school.
Poor academic performance: Since students may feel discouraged and disengaged from school, low academic performance can also influence attendance. The Department of Education in the UK found that absenteeism increased with lower student achievement at KS2 and KS4, while absenteeism decreased with higher student achievement. This is because poor performance leaves students feeling unmotivated.
It's imperative to remember that these are just a few possible causes of low attendance and that each person's circumstances may be different. Poor attendance must be addressed holistically, taking into account the underlying causes and addressing them as needed and appropriate. How might attendance be enhanced?
Improving school attendance.
Make your classroom a welcoming, friendly place where students feel at ease and can engage in a positive learning environment. Promote group projects and discussions and give constructive criticism; this may help. Further fostering a culture of inclusivity and support for all students, regardless of background, improves attendance for the whole school.
Working together to improve school attendance. Work with the student to address any underlying issues and offer support as necessary. This is especially true if they include personal problems or health problems that are causing the student to miss class. Teachers and staff members need to use their close observation skills to accomplish this.
Providing rewards. Give students rewards for regular attendance in class. This can be in the form of bonuses for stellar attendance, participation points, or extra credit. Along with follow-ups to determine obstacles and reasons for absence, sanctions or consequences may be applied to unexplained absences.
Create lesson plans with engaging content that is relevant to students' interests and daily lives. This may keep students engaged and inspired to come to class. The use of supportive engagement and learning across contexts has made it possible for students to be actively encouraged to attend school.
Utilize technology to increase attendance, such as by setting up an online system to track attendance or by reminding students ahead of time about upcoming classes. Inform students on a regular basis about the value of attendance and how it affects their performance in class. To keep students up to date on their progress, you can also regularly update attendance records.
Education technology can be used to make classrooms and schools more inviting, track attendance, and create lesson plans. E-spaces has developed an application that can create lesson plans based on the course syllabus and in-class quizzes.
Attendance tracking and rewards are automatic. Further, at E-spaces, we have developed an application that can create the lesson plan for you according to which lesson objective you are on. How does the application know which objectives to cover? In-class quizzes are created based on each lesson objective after uploading the syllabus. Digital quizzes are taken after teaching each objective and marked instantly. Upon passing the objective quiz, the lesson plan is adjusted to move on to the next objective. Additional reading material is given, and the next lesson plan has a quick recap to cover the main points if a lot of students don't understand.
If this seems far-fetched, come try out the application at the Bett Show that will be held in London in a few weeks. If that is far sign up for our Beta tested version as a school and observe if indeed school attendance improves.