Maintaining high attendance at Mossbourne Federation: Part 2 – laying the foundations for success - ProgressTeaching
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Maintaining high attendance at Mossbourne Federation: Part 2 – laying the foundations for success

Maintaining high attendance at Mossbourne Federation: Part 2 – laying the foundations for success

In the continuation of our thought-provoking series with Peter Hughes, CEO of the Mossbourne Federation and author of ‘Outstanding School Leadership, we explore the importance of laying the foundations for success to achieve high pupil attendance rates. 


Parents are a key influencer as to whether a child attends school. Teachers are responsible for the wellbeing of the children in their care and we’re passionate about that – it’s why we all got into teaching in the first place but it is not our job to parent them.

When we lay the foundations for success, we need to clearly define the role of the school and the role of the parent. That starts the moment a parent signs their child up to a Mossbourne school. 

When a parent signs their child up to our secondary school for example the first thing that is expected of them is to come to a parents evening – even if it’s their second, third or fourth child.

The first verse of attendance that we’re looking for here is whether that parent turns up.

We’ll be persistent in our contact with the parent if they miss that parents evening – they’ll receive phone calls, letters, and potentially a visit to their house if necessary. It’s important for us to be able to sit down with them and explain what is expected of their child and how it is their responsibility to be enforcing those standards. It’s about providing the best for the child. Something we can all agree on. 

The message that we’re sending to the parents at this point is that we have high expectations, and we will do everything within our power to uphold those expectations just as they need to. Through this process we can identify the real needs verses ‘the noise’.

"By being assertive and seeking clarity before the child is even in school, we’re cutting through the noise and establishing what challenges we’re going to face and what support measures we need to put in place to get those children into school. "

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

Our teachers read the profiles of their new pupils so that we can organise them into groups that will be most beneficial to them – you need to consider things like which pupils may feed off each other both positively and negatively, will the child feel safe coming to school, are there any primary issues we need to deal with. 

This all gets dealt with before the child arrives so that we’ve created an environment of clarity and safety for them to thrive in their educational journey – we’ve implemented two filters before a child has even started their new school. 

We’re able to streamline this process using ProgressTeaching because we can easily upload KS2 data and SEND strategies. 

Any notes and strategies teachers need for pupils to be successful are accessible from day 1, such as knowing if a pupil has ADHD for example. We view this alongside seating plans so there’s no scratching around or going into different EdTech systems looking for information. 

We also have Year 6 sit a Reading Age test during their transition day. The results are uploaded to ProgressTeaching for teachers to read so they can plan amazing lessons straight away! 

Knowing a pupil’s reading age is critical. It is one of the biggest factors as to whether a pupil can effectively access the curriculum, the trouble is they get very good at masking any weaknesses they have with reading. The ability to read is a small but mighty elephant – it’s the key to every other subject and, in many ways, a key to life. 

On transition day we lay the foundations for success with our pupils. The first thing that we do is tell them how lucky they are and how brilliant we know they’re going to be! 

People from the same estate, road, or area as them – perhaps even their next-door neighbour, brother, sister or cousin – have sat in their exact seats and achieved incredible accomplishments in life. They’ve attended Oxbridge, Cambridge and universities in the US which has helped them to excel in their chosen career path where they’ve gone on to become doctors, teachers and law professionals. We will do everything we can to make sure that happens for them too!

The second thing we do is tell them what we expect of them. We are strict on our rules at Mossbourne and we follow through on what we say we’re going to do. If a child makes a mistake they get a detention, if they’re late to transition day they get a late detention. They have to be as committed to their education as we are and the rules that we set apply from day 1 – that includes our rules around lateness and attendance! 

There’s a lot of pre work that happens when it comes to attendance and that’s a big part of why we have such high attendance rates at Mossbourne. 

We set our expected attendance rates at 97% which is well above the expected rates of governments. The moment a child’s attendance rate drops below 97% we take action and that’s when our support team gets more heavily involved so that we can establish with their parents who the children are that genuinely need our support, and who are the ones creating ‘noise’.”

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