I want to start this blog by thanking pupils and parents/families for the significant improvements we have seen in respect of school uniform. For me the important issue with this is less around uniform and more around the fact that pupils, staff and parents had all identified the need to make this a priority and had worked together to make a significant improvement. In short, where we have a shared sense of a problem and take a collective approach to addressing it then we can bring about significant improvement.
In my discussions with pupils, teachers and parents there are some other areas where there seems to be a shared desire to bring about improvements. These include; attendance/lateness, low level disruption and pupil attainment. Over this term I want to work with people on making improvements in each of these areas – starting with absence/lateness.
The 3 basic messages around absence from school are simple ones:
- Pupils with high levels of attendance tend do better in school.
- Anything which disrupts school attendance (illness, family holidays in term time, truancy, exclusion) impact negatively on school performance and attainment.
- We need the support of pupils and parents/families to bring about improvement.
Whenever we write references for pupils the first two questions asked tend to relate to attendance and punctuality. Put another way, “do they turn up for their work every day and are they on time for their work/ reliable”.
In relation to lateness we are regularly seeing around 50 pupils turning up late in the morning and similar numbers arriving late for lessons. Teachers are wasting so much time going back in to update class registers, pupils are having their learning disrupted by late arrivals to class. I am sure you can all think of times where someone arriving late has annoyed or disrupted you (waiting for a bus/taxi, at the start of a movie/show, flight delays, a friend turning up late for a party ….). Indeed the times we get most annoyed by lateness seem to be where it really matters.
Education is one of the things which really does matter for young people. It is so important that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child gives education two specific rights:
- Article 28 – the right to an education
- Article 29 – education should develop talents and abilities to the full
Over this term I want us all to give a high priority to improving attendance and reducing lateness.