The Addressing Attendance in Schools Policy adopts a whole school approach philosophy. This approach is defined as a unified collective and collaborative action in and by educators, administrators, parents and students that has been strategically constituted to improve student learning behaviour and well being and the conditions that support these.
This policy aims to:
- Maximise school completion for all students.
- Raise student achievement and close gaps in student performance.
- Identify attendance patterns in order to design attendance improvement efforts.
- Verify that individual students are complying with education legislation relating to compulsory attendance.
- Promote the value of education.
Habitually absent students are identified as one of the most disadvantaged groups at risk of poverty. Poor attendance has been linked to poor academic achievement and impacts upon self-esteem, behaviour, employability and the subsequent quality
and economic status of former truants in their adult life (Reid, 1999).
There is a direct correlation between regular school attendance and school achievement
The European Union (EU) has set five targets to be reached by 2020. One of these targets is that of reducing the rate of early school leaving (ESL) to less than 10%.
Early school leavers are those who will have limited life chances, will be channelled towards dead-end jobs if any, affecting their lifetime earnings; are more prone to join the working or non-working poor; and are at risk of social exclusion. Early school leavers have their health and well-being affected, and more likely to depend on higher social benefits. Therefore early school leavers are those who will be less likely to fulfill
their potential as human beings, as active citizens who participate less in democratic processes and as principal actors in the labour market (MEDE, 2014).
In order for chronic absenteeism to be addressed effectively the responsibility of reducing school absenteeism is to be shared by all stakeholders involved, including all teaching and administrative school staff (College Principals, School Management Teams, Educators, etc) and Support Services.
Addressing chronic absenteeism is a continuous process that involves understanding, identifying characteristics of chronically absent students, identifying interventions that target absenteeism patterns, applying and tracking interventions, assessing their effectiveness and adjusting accordingly (Sanchez, 2012).
Whilst to date Education Social Workers work mainly on cases of absenteeism, the way forward necessitates a whole school approach, with educators assuming an active role in addressing non-attendance. (MEDE, 2014).