Attendance Strategy

Introduction

These strategies were drawn up by staff and in school management to ensure a high level of attendance at school by all pupils.

Rationale

The document was drafted for the following reasons:

  • The staff wishes to comply with legislation, such as: The Education Act, 1998 and The Education (Welfare) Act, 2000
  • The staff wishes to promote and encourage regular attendance as an essential factor in our pupils’ learning.

Relationship to school ethos

Portlaoise Educate Together endeavours to enable every pupil to actively participate in all school activities. Regular attendance helps to create a stable learning environment for all pupils, and the school hopes to promote co-operation amongst pupils, parents/guardians and staff in maintaining a high level of regular attendance throughout the school year.

Aims/Objectives

  • Raise awareness of the importance of school attendance
  • Encourage full attendance where possible
  • Identify pupils at risk
  • Promote a positive learning environment
  • Enable learning opportunities to be availed of

Recording and Reporting of Attendance and Non-Attendance

The school attendance of individual pupils in each class is recorded  in electronic format on the online Aladdin database on a daily basis. Summary information in relation to daily, monthly and annual attendance of pupils is generated monthly by the post holder for attendance. These summaries are printed and stored in a Leabhar Tinrimh folder in the office. All children enrolled are recorded in electronic format in the Primary Online Database (POD) which can be accessed through the school’s electronic database, Aladdin. All hard copies of the Clárleabhar and the Leabhar Rolla will not be used from September 2015 onwards and any of these old records will be stored securely in school. A pupils POD number is their unique identifier. (Previously this number would have been the clárleabhar number)

If a pupil does not attend on a day when the school is open for instruction, his/her non-attendance will be recorded by the class teacher. The roll call is taken before 9:30 am each morning.

A note from parents/guardians is required to explain each absence. Once received, class teachers must input the reason for absenteeism on Aladdin. These notes can be handwritten or completed online via the school’s website which class teachers can access. Physical notes will be retained by the class teacher until the end of the school year. At the end of each year, these notes are shredded by class teachers except for notes from those children who have been absent for 20 days or more throughout the school year. These notes are placed in an envelope in the child’s file for future reference.

The school calculates the attendance of each child four times a year. (Dates provided by the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB.))

 

Whole School Strategies to Promote Attendance

Caring Environment

  • Portlaoise Educate Together, at all times, aims to ensure that children are taught in a safe secure and caring environment where their intellectual, physical and spiritual development are catered for
  • We try to create a welcoming environment for pupils and parents. Teachers consistently try to encourage good attendance in their respective classrooms

Communication

  • Class teachers hold a general meeting with all parents at the beginning of the school year. At this meeting, one of the issues addressed is that of the importance of regular school attendance among a range of other topics.
  • The ‘Don’t let your child miss out’ booklet created by the NEWB is made available to parents at the parents notice board in the school foyer.
  • Attendance and punctuality is discussed at parent/teacher meetings during the school year.
  • When a child is absent for 15 days, an automatic text message is sent from the school’s online database to the parent/guardian of the child informing them of this absenteeism and asking the parent/guardian to arrange a meeting with the class teacher to discuss their child’s attendance.
  • When a child has been absent for 20 days, the post holder of attendance sends a letter to the parent/guardian of the child detailing number of days missed and the fact that the NEWB will be informed of these absences. The letter also asks parent(s)/guardian(s) to arrange a meeting with the class teacher to discuss attendance. The ‘Don’t let your child miss out’ booklet is also enclosed with this letter.
  • Parents/guardians are informed in writing (in their child’s end-of-year School Report) of punctuality and the total number of absences during the school year.

Rewards

  • Certificates for perfect attendance are awarded to children at the end of each term and annually during assembly. Children who have perfect attendance for the entire school year receive a prize during the last final whole school assembly for the school year.
  • An attendance display is visible in the school hall. During assembly each week, the host will announce classes who have achieved 90% attendance for the prior week in school. These classes receive a whole class reward after 15 weeks of achieving 90% attendance. This reward is determined by class teachers and/or pupils.

Roles and Responsibilities

All members of staff have a responsibility to implement these strategies. Specific details of responsibilities for attendance concerns are outlined in the next section.

  • Class teachers record individual patterns of attendance, seek explanations for absenteeism and inform the post holder for attendance of any concerns. The class teacher must inform the post holder for attendance of any children who are absent for 15-20 days consecutively.
  • The school’s post holder for attendance makes returns to the NEWB, maintains the Leabhar Tinrimh and ensures that this is signed by the principal, communicates with the local NEWO regarding attendance concerns, removes any pupil from the roll if they have been absent for 20 consecutive days, organises termly and annual attendance rewards and certificates.
  • If a child’s non-attendance is thought to be linked to Child Protection issues, the Designated Liaison Person will be

informed and the school’s Child Protection Policy will be implemented.

Procedures for targeting poor attendance & Roles and Responsibilities of Staff Members in this matter

The following steps are followed by members of staff outlined below:

  • At the beginning of each school year, the post holder for attendance gives each class teacher a folder with a copy of the Pre-referral and referral forms from the NEWB, a copy of an absence note template, and envelopes to store physical notes enclosed.
  • Class teacher seeks note/reason for absenteeism and stores these in Absenteeism folder until the end of the school year.
  • Class teacher inputs reason for absenteeism on Aladdin.
  • Automatic text message sent to parent(s)/guardian(s) at 15 days absenteeism to inform them of the absenteeism and ask them to arrange a meeting with class teacher to discuss attendance.
  • Post holder for attendance sends a letter to parent(s)/guardian(s) of children who have missed 20 days of school during the school year with the ‘Don’t let your child miss out’ document from the National Educational Welfare Board.
  • Class teacher completes Pre-referral form from the NEWB at the meeting held with parent(s)/guardian(s) and gives to Post holder for attendance once complete.
  • Class teacher completes referral form for children who have been absent for 20 days throughout the school year and they have a concern about. A meeting must be held with parent/guardian of the child concerned prior to completing a referral. If parent(s)/guardian(s) of children do not arrange a meeting following letter or text message from the school, the class teacher must contact the parent(s)/guardian(s) to arrange a time.
  • Referrals are signed by the principal and posted to the school’s Educational Welfare Officer by the post holder for attendance.
  • The Educational Welfare Officer for PETNS sends a letter to the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the child concerned to request a meeting and a copy of this letter is forwarded to the school. The post holder for attendance informs the class teacher of the details of this meeting so that they can attend. (Class teacher, NEWO and parent/guardian of the child concerned attends meeting to discuss attendance)
  • Following this meeting the attendance of the child concerned will be monitored closely and the class teacher will feedback to the post holder for attendance if they are still concerned.
  • Any children who have been referred to the NEWB will be highlighted on Aladdin and on pupil files in the office by the post holder for attendance for class teachers (new) to see and monitor.
  • At the end of each school year, class teachers shred physical notes explaining absenteeism or store notes for children who have been referred and/or been absent for 20 days or more during that school year in an envelope in the pupil’s individual file in the office.

20 Consecutive Days Absenteeism

A pupil must be marked as a ‘’leaver’’ on POD within 2 days after the 20th consecutive day absence. The pupils education record remains on POD and the only change that occurs is that the status of the pupil’s education record is updated to reflect that the pupil has left the school. The class teacher must inform the post holder for attendance when a child has been absent for 15-20 consecutive days so that the post holder can mark the pupil as a ‘’leaver’’ after the 20 consecutive day absence.

Transfer to another school

Under Section 20 of the Education (Welfare) Act (2000), the Principal of a child’s current school must notify the Principal of the child’s previous school that the child is now registered in their school. The following steps must be followed in accordance with Circular 0033/2015 from the Department of Education.

  1. The first school updates the pupils enrolment record on POD by marking the pupil as a ‘’leaver’’ on POD, with the reason for same and the actual leaving date of pupil. This must be completed within 2 days of the actual leaving date of the pupil except where the school did not know that the pupil had left the school. This step will be carried out by the school secretary in PETNS.
  2. The second school must enter the pupil on its register on the day on which the pupil first attends the school through the POD education record. Step 1 must be carried out before step 2 can be completed. This step will be completed by the school secretary in PETNS.
  3. When step 2 is completed, the second school must notify the first school in writing of the enrolment of the pupil in its school. This will be completed by the school secretary in PETNS.
  4. Following receipt of this letter, the first school shall record receipt of same in the school’s section on POD. The completion of this step complies with the first school’s obligation under Section 20(4) of the Welfare Act 2000 to remove the pupil’s name from the register. This will be completed by the school secretary in PETNS

Success Criteria

The following will provide some indicators of the success of these strategies:

  • An increase in annual attendance rates
  • Increased Board of Management, staff and parent/guardian awareness of legal obligations under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000