Maintaining High Attendance by Cutting Through the Noise
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Maintaining high attendance at Mossbourne Federation: Part 1 – Cutting through the noise

Maintaining high attendance at Mossbourne Federation: Part 1 – Cutting through the noise
Part 1 in this insightful series of articles explores how the Mossbourne Federation has successfully maintained high attendance post-pandemic by cutting through the noise. 

Peter Hughes – Mossbourne CEO and author of ‘Outstanding School Leadership’ – emphasises how this proven tactic ensures their most vulnerable pupils get the support they need.

"At its simplest, the pastoral provision in a school is the essential foundation for learning. It removes barriers for the most vulnerable and is crucial for children’s physical and emotional welfare, especially for those who could easily find themselves lost. Never underestimate its importance. I certainly don’t."

Peter Hughes, CEO of the Mossbourne Federation, Founder of ProgressTeaching and Author of 'Outstanding School Leadership'

“For us at Mossbourne, attendance comes hand in hand with high expectations. We’re clear about our expectations and communicate these standards to our pupils and their parents. It’s a simple concept however, it does come with challenges.

It’s important to understand there is a difference between a child who just can’t be bothered and is being a bit lazy versus a child who genuinely has issues that are a cause for concern. These are the children we need to find and the ones that the ProgressTeaching platform helps us to identify. 

Our job as educators is to cut through the noise and find out who truly needs our support. A lot of schools get wrapped up in the noise. When I say noise, I mean scenarios like:

“Sarah feels bad because Jonny said something mean to her in the playground, so Sarah should be out of lessons.”

No! I’ll be blunt and say that’s a part of life! When we facilitate the noise, we allow the noise to become the reality. Our pupils need to understand that someone saying something that upsets them or makes them angry doesn’t mean they can’t get on with their studies.

An example of a genuine problem is when a child has parents with mental health issues. This could be causing them to have mental health issues themselves which is stopping them from being able to get to school. They’re facing real challenges that they need our help with.

Feeding into the noise causes two fundamental problems:

1 – We’re telling that child that the issue is worse than it is. Think about a small child who falls over and scratches their leg and cries their eyes out – they’re not critically hurt. They’re crying because they’re shocked at what they’ve just done. We need to comfort them, tell them that everything’s OK and put a plaster on it if they need it – it’s at this point the child will more than likely be happy again and be ready to carry on with their day. If we turn around and make it a big deal, we’re reinforcing ‘the noise’ and worsening the situation.

As adults and educators, we must show our children how to process life events. It helps them to understand what’s a big deal and what’s just unpleasant.

2 – The more noise we create as educators, the less likely it is that genuine cases will be recognised and get the support they need. Children who need our help are getting lost in a system that is too busy dealing with the noise and this is unacceptable. It’s our job to be straightforward, direct, and honest with the children and their parents, grandparents, guardians, or whoever is their primary carer. As someone who had multiple carers throughout my schooling, I know first-hand the impact it can have on a child.

"Children who need our help are getting lost in a system that is too busy dealing with the noise and this is unacceptable."

My older brother was an example of a child who was failed by the system. He was what today we would call a young carer, as he often had to shoulder the responsibility of caring for me and my younger sister.

To make a real difference we need to be spending our time understanding the pupils who are most at risk of falling behind in their education due to genuinely not being able to make it to school – what’s happening in their lives, what is it that they need from us, and what supporting services do we need to bring in to help?

Cutting through the noise is one method in our attendance strategy that has allowed us to consistently maintain an average of 97% attendance across our schools despite our higher than national average pupil stats for SEN, EAL and PPI.

I’m incredibly proud of the team at Mossbourne and our pupils for their ongoing commitment to live our core values:

  • Excellence
  • No excuses
  • Unity

Together we strive for the common goal of being the best we can be so that every pupil, teacher and member of staff fulfils their potential. This is achieved through our mission to change children’s lives for the better by creating environments where learning is the norm. 

To make this a reality pupils need to be in school. This is why attendance is and always will be a high priority for us.”

Book a demonstration to learn how ProgressTeaching can help your school to improve pupil attendance:

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