By Urs Cunningham | Posted: Monday April 24, 2023
Attendance for Term 1 has been compiled and analysed. We have had a fairly positive start to the year with attendance, given the ongoing impacts of Covid.
For Term 1 this year our average attendance rate is 93.4%. This is higher than our final 2022 rate of 90.1%, but lower than previous years. On the whole, we usually average an attendance rate of 94 - 95%, and we aim for 96% attendance. We are very aware that the ongoing impacts of Covid, especially the need to isolate for seven days if you test positive for Covid, are affecting attendance rates.
An attendance pattern that is particularly concerning us at the moment is the increase of students who are attending school for less than 80% of the time (meaning they miss 1/5 or more of a year by the end of a year, which is nearly 3/4 of a term). In previous years we averaged between 1-3% of students having an attendance rate of 80% or less. In 2022, 8.7% of students attended for 80% or less of the year, and for Term 1 2023 the rate is 8.76%. This is partially due to higher sickness rates, and partly due to an increase in the number of families travelling to reconnect with whānau overseas. While we understand the need to reconnect with whānau, we do ask families to consider the disruption to learning and social connections at school when making plans, and look to take trips, at home or abroad, within school breaks wherever possible. We will continue to monitor these absence rates, and we hope to see the number of students attending for 80% of the time or less begin to decrease.
Tamariki who attend school consistently are likely to stay at school longer and live more successful lives. Of particular interest is the link between attendance in the first two years at school and longevity at school. What this suggests is that a pattern of attendance develops very early in school life and does not easily change. Tamariki whose attendance is lower are more likely to leave school before achieving the necessary qualifications for success.
The Board of Trustees is expected to take all reasonable steps to ensure that ākonga attend school whenever it is open. The Education Act 1989 requires all tamariki enrolled at a school to attend school whenever that school is open unless they have a justified reason not to attend; just giving a reason does not necessarily justify an absence.
However, of greater concern than the legal requirements, is the long term impact on their life-chances as a result of students developing problematic attendance patterns. Another attendance pattern that concerns us, for example, is a student whose overall attendance for any year never reaches above 90%; the child who is often absent for a day here or there - especially on particular days such as Mondays or Fridays. These ākonga may have absences that are all explained, but this does not mean they are really justified. They are likely to develop big gaps in their learning because by the end of year 8 they will have missed almost a year of school, and they will not have learned to persevere with their learning because their regular absences mean they often lose momentum.
Please note your child's attendance level and be aware of whether they are developing a school absence pattern - it can happen without you realising it. On your tamariki's main learning page on Hero, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you can see an overview of your child's attendance for Term 1 this year, and the Term 2 attendance will show and update as we go through the term. It is a good idea to look at this now and again, so that you can keep an overview of your child's attendance - a pattern of absence can creep up on you without you noticing.
Normally, we communicate with families on a termly basis if their child's attendance rate is lower than 90%. However, for the last couple of years we have taken a much more bespoke approach to attendance communications, looking carefully at patterns, reasons and each child's context before deciding whether or not to communicate with whānau about attendance. If we are concerned about an ongoing pattern of low attendance, or if your child's attendance is particularly low for Term 1, we will let you know.
If we do communicate with you regarding your child's attendance, please be assured that we not do this to pass judgement or make families feel bad, but to ensure that parents know the absence/lateness rates of their child/ren; this way you can make informed decisions about your child's attendance. The communications come from our admin team rather than from individual teachers, as it is our admin and leadership team who complete tracking of overall attendance across the school.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding school attendance, please contact me ([email protected]) or your child's whānau teacher, and we will be happy to meet with you and help in any way we can.