The Attendance Improvement Team aims to ensure that every child can access education in a safe environment. The responsibility for tackling attendance is everyone’s responsibility however, the DfE have set out clear roles for schools, the LA and parents. The school’s responsibility is set out in Section 2 of Working together to improve school attendance (publishing.service.gov.uk). All Devon schools will have a named Attendance Improvement Officer (AIO) allocated to a local learning community (LLC). The core offer from the LA is to facilitate targeted support meetings.
Core offer to schools
Under the guidance Working together to improve school attendance (publishing.service.gov.uk), the Attendance Improvement Officer (AIO) will:
- support and work with Devon schools on the early identification of emerging patterns of irregular pupil attendance, whilst paying particular attention to supporting our most vulnerable pupils
- work together to agree a joint approach for severely absent pupils (50% and below), this may include specific support with attendance or a whole family plan
- provide ad hoc advice, support and guidance via email or telephone
- arrange a termly targeted support meeting for all secondary schools and large primary schools
- have regular contact with smaller primary schools
- advise the family’s lead practitioner on any attendance elements of a family’s attendance plan
- give advice on legal intervention where all support processes have failed or where there has been non engagement and all parties agree this is the most appropriate course of action
- advise schools about undertaking formal legal escalation meetings (formally fast track).
- work to develop strategic policies and procedures in partnership with schools and other agencies to improve pupil attendance across the county.
This means that the Attendance Improvement Officers will no longer be able to visit schools on a regular basis (unless you have purchased additional time on the shop) to discuss attendance or be able to attend school-based meetings which are arranged to discuss and agree action plans in relation to individual pupil absence. The AIO may attend to offer support to new members of school staff where structuring such meetings is an identified training need.
Targeted support meeting
The purpose of this meeting is to work together as equal partners to:
- advise on the requirements for clear and transparent whole school attendance processes, policies and strategies which allow for the early identification of pupils with declining levels of attendance and ensure that supportive interventions are offered to enable pupils to return to regular, full-time attendance at school
- to ensure that all Devon schools and academies have access to the most up-to-date government advice and guidance in respect of coding of absence and attendance reporting requirements (e.g., census returns, attendance returns to the DfE, etc.)
- to share good practice in relation to strategies which may be used to address absence, with a view to minimising the need for schools to require legal intervention (penalty notices/prosecution) via the Education Act 1996
- to encourage schools to take a multi-agency approach to addressing absence and providing a signposting service to inform schools about any services, organisations and/or agencies that may be able to offer support in this aim
- to ensure there are attendance plans in place for all severely absent (less than 50%) pupils. Schools and AIO are expected to have agreed a joint approach for all severely absent pupils
- to scrutinise available data to identify emerging local patterns of positive attendance improvement and ‘hotspots,’ particularly around vulnerable groups, where attendance patterns appear to be declining, using this data to facilitate opportunities for schools to collaborate and network so that school-led improvement relationships may be formed, as appropriate
- to facilitate networking and training opportunities for Attendance Officers, Attendance Leads and Headteachers which seek to promote local and national good practice and allow colleagues to share successful strategies which have enabled them to overcome barriers to regular attendance for their pupils
- be available to provide advice to schools/parents in individual cases, by telephone
From September it will be the school’s responsibility to undertake formal meetings as it is not part of a core function of the local authority. The AIO will be available to offer support and guidance to school staff where structuring such meetings is an identified training need.
- upon agreement between all parties working with the family, take forward attendance legal intervention (using the full range of parental responsibility measures) where voluntary support has not been successful or engaged with
- AIO will be available to provide advice and support with the process
- once schools have undertaken and can evidence all formal meetings have been held with the family, the AIO will be able to give advice around completing a referral direct to the Penalty Notice team
- Parenting contracts
- Education Supervision Orders
- Building attendance into child in need or child protection plans where relevant
- Issuing fixed penalty notices
- Parenting Orders
- Taking forward prosecutions persistently breaching any Education Supervision Order or Parenting Order in place