As a school we place a great emphasis on attendance and in the last 4 years, as attendance has improved, so have exam results. Students get on average 6 grades better than they did in Summer 2016, and though attendance is not the only reason, it certainly plays a big part.

Of course, if a child is ill then they are ill – we totally accept that – and with many of us parents we know there are times when our own children cannot attend school. However, as a school, our key job is to champion a child’s education. This summer’s exam results show that those Year 11s with lower attendance got lower results.

We don’t chase absence to be unkind, or because we automatically think parents are lying, or are being too soft; rather it is to make sure the child is safe and because we know their exam results will likely fall. Even so, there are some parents out there who do not send their children into school regularly, or even take them on holiday during the GCSE exam period. We chase every parent because we cannot pick and choose – these poor attenders were once good attenders so you can’t just wait till there is a problem. Prevention is very much better and easier than cure and we can often help more at an earlier stage.

There is no doubt this summer saw some children miss out on Sixth Form, apprenticeships and other routes because they did not turn up regularly enough. There is a family and student cost on 1-2 years at college to do re-takes, a long-term salary cost if a grade was vital to a particular employment route, and potentially a confidence cost that lasts a lifetime.

Last year’s Year 11 had 12 students with below 90% attendance. This is the equivalent of taking over 1 day off work per fortnight. Just over 40% of them passed their GCSE English and Maths. Of those that did pass, they tended to get lower grades (say a 4 rather than a 6). These students got on average ½ grade lower in English, ¾ grade lower in Maths, ½ grade lower in Science, 1 grade lower in MFL and ½ grade lower in History and Geography.

Similarly, there were 35 students who got between 90-95% attendance. Only 57% passed their GCSE English and Maths. Equally, they again scored lower in individual subjects, such as ½ grade lower in Maths and ½ grade lower in Science.

Unsurprisingly, those students who attended 96%+ of the time did best. Over 91% of them passed their English and over 85% passed their Maths. On average these high attenders finished over 7 grades above their expected government progress level.

The evidence is stark and the difference is great.

If a child is ill then should they come into school ? At times not.
Would a term time holiday be nice ? Absolutely.
Should a child attend a family funeral ? Certainly.

There are many sets of circumstances, and some are more important that any GCSE grade. Even so, there is no doubt that the students with the worst attendance perform lower than those that turn up day in day out.

Is that worth chasing up ? 100%.