Do you remember roll call at school? If your childhood was anything like mine, you would have turned up to school every day of the year – no matter what. In fact, if I had a severed arm, but there was still some sinew attached, my parents would have sent me to school. Tonsillitis and an operation kept me away for a few days in primary school, but that’s about it. No ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ – we just went to school.
My worry this week is attendance. How many days a term would you say was a reasonable absence rate in high school? 2 days per term? 4 days per term? 2 days is 4% absence. 4 days is 8%. It adds up very quickly. On average, students in some year groups are only turning up 85% of the time. That’s 30 days away for every student across the year!!
It looks even worse when you calculate the relationship between attendance and performance in school based assessment. The negative correlation is as high as -0.3. So, turning up is essential and not turning up is going to have a seriously negative effect. The really prickly question is: why aren’t they turning up.
Here’s where we leave numbers behind and begin to deal with assumptions.
Top 5 reasons why kids don’t come to school 100% of the time
5. They’re genuinely sick
4. They feel like they don’t belong at school, or are being bullied
3. They believe their learning and their school experience is irrelevant
2. They do not experience success
1. They do not love learning
So, apart from being sick, the rest of these reasons are well within our control. It doesn’t take an expert to see that the more kids are connected with meaningful learning experiences in a safe and welcoming environment, the more they will want to turn up.
I need to stop now. This situation makes me feel ill!