15.1.24 Wendy Smith, Associate Governor

The focus of the visit was to discuss attendance with the heads of school, Joy Buttress and Lorna Dermody, and to see what is being done to monitor and improve it and support families.

Joy and Lorna explained the new attendance logging system, Arbor, which has replaced Sims.  This is very simple for staff to use.  The Arbor website states that it ‘Tracks attendance, behaviour, and progress in a single, integrated platform’ and it has a live dashboard.

Data can be easily obtained showing information such as persistent absence and the reasons for absence.     These include extended visits abroad, medical reasons and homelessness (some families are regularly moved from one temporary home to another).  Sometimes there is no apparent reason for persistent absence and the Family Support Worker will work with families who may have issues which the school is unaware of.  For example children may be living in damp homes which could lead to illness, and support may be given to improve their living conditions.  Some children have ‘medical contracts’ which support their education in different settings.

At our meeting Joy and Lorna had found a glitch with the new system which still showed pupils no longer on roll as they hadn’t yet been enrolled in a new school.  This seemed to make the persistent absence rate higher than was thought.  Following our meeting they were able to remove these pupils but the rate of persistent absentees was still 27%, higher than the national rate of 17%.  This will be checked at the end of the spring term as it may not be accurate.

Data from Arbor will be sent to the DfE by a third party provider.

Mellers is working with the Attendance Hub which is through the Priority Education Investment Area.   Priority education investment areas – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)  We discussed further ways of offering support to families, including parent governors communicating with other parents/carers and local councillors holding advice surgeries at school (this has been done once).

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