If there is one issue that can aggravate a parent, it is when we chase up absences and repeat our mantra that every day in school counts.

Of course, there are few parents who disagree with this, and if a child is too ill to come in then they are too ill to come in, but the recent Year 11 Leavers Assembly gives a great reminder about why this should be a big deal for every one of us.

The following Y11 students got ‘Outstanding Attendance Awards’ at the Year 11 Leavers Assembly:

Josh Allen Greg Bilinski Amy Bridgewater Louis Caldwell Poppy Carter
Libby Davey Megan Gibson Jay Harwood Thomas Hughes Jack Hulme
Faye Hunt Samuel Hutchison Adam Leeson James Mackenzie Ryan Marshall
Joshua Nyambayo Cameron Snape Lucy Stothert Sophie Turner Ben Wilcox
Joshua Williams

The Department for Education (DfE) look at Y11s best 8 subjects when judging a child’s success in school and these award-winning children are predicted to be averaging over 10 grades higher across their best 8 subjects than the government would expect. If we added in their other 2-3 subjects then it would be even higher still !

On the other hand, our Year 11s had 11 students who were below 90% (so the DfE define them as persistently absent) and on average they were absent from school for at least 1 day per fortnight.

In this group, 73% of them are currently predicted to finish below expected progress and there is no doubt this will affect their life chances. We know some have missed out on Sixth Form and apprenticeships. Of course, moving forward, school grades are not the be-all-and-end-all of anything, but they definitely help.

Ian Rose, Deputy Headteacher and attendance lead, said: “Sometimes a child is too ill, or has another good reason, why they are not in school – this is unavoidable. Equally, the evidence is very strong that these absences come at a serious cost, causing the child to under-perform in their exams, and hence lose out on opportunities that they may otherwise have been able to take up. All of our persistently absent children will admit the school has put in a lot of support to help them, and will have helped them secure some good grades to move forward with, but the reality is that they will never be what they could have been. Some doors will have certainly closed which will be very difficult, if not impossible, to open.”

Matt Allman, Headteacher, added: “If we chase an absence it is not that we think every parent is being flaky or obstructive, it is just that we know every day will make a difference. We have to champion high attendance – it is our job to bring educational success. If your child is in school we can help them shine, if they are not, then we cannot. We can talk about student intelligence, we can talk about teachers’ relative skills, but both are largely irrelevant if the child does not turn up.”