Changing social habits and patterns necessitated the updating of the schools attendance policy. The redrafting was a collaborative school process involving staff and Board of Management, following initial drafting by a representative group.
The main factors contributing to the formulation of a revised policy can be summarised as follows:
- To promote and encourage regular attendance as an essential factor in our pupils’ learning
- Legislative requirements such as the Education Welfare Act 2000 and the Education Act, 1998
- The role of the NEWB
- Levels of disadvantage
- Changing attitudes to education.
Relationship to characteristic spirit of the school:
Our mission in St. Colmcille’s Girls’ N.S. is to create a happy, caring and secure atmosphere. In this structured environment the vision of the school is to identify and address the academic, spiritual, physical, moral, social and cultural needs of all the pupils. Our school aims to be a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of its community i.e. Pupils, parents, teachers, ancillary staff and visitors to the school.
- Ensuring that pupils are registered accurately and efficiently.
- Ensuring that pupil attendance is recorded daily.
- Raising awareness of the importance of school attendance and encouraging full attendance where possible.
- Identifying pupils at risk.
- Promoting a positive learning environment.
- Enabling learning opportunities to be availed of by all.
- Fostering an appreciation of learning.
- Ensuring compliance with the requirements of the relevant legislation i.e. Education Welfare Act (2000)
- Developing, subject to available resources, links between the school and the families of children who may be at risk of developing attendance problems.
- Identifying and removing, insofar as is practicable, obstacles to school attendance.
Defining and Recording Non-Attendance:
- School attendance is recorded each morning before 10:00 a.m. in the Leabhar Tinrimh.
- Annual Whole School Attendance is recorded in the Clár Leabhar.
- Notes regarding non-attendance are kept by class teachers for the duration of the academic year.
- Class teacher must note when a pupil leaves school early. Parents are requested to collect their daughter directly from her classroom only and not from the school yard during breaks.
- Any person collecting a pupil on behalf of the parent must have written consent to do so.
- Parents/guardians are made aware of the requirements of the NEWB particularly the by-law relating to absences of more than 20 days per school year. They are notified in writing on the end of year report of the total number of absences during the school year. Pupils whose non-attendance is a concern are invited to meet with the Principal during Parent/Teacher meetings and are informed of the school’s concerns.
- The school must inform the Education Welfare Officer in writing, where a child has missed 20 or more days in a school year, where attendance is irregular, where a pupil is removed from the school register and where a child is suspended or expelled for 6 days or more.
Whole School Strategies to promote Attendance
St. Colmcille’s Girls’ N.S. promotes Good Attendance by:
- Creating a safe and welcoming environment in which children are happy.
- Being aware of the risks that hamper attendance i.e. bullying, academic issues, family attitudes and trends.
- Rewarding good attendance i.e. termly (class) and annually (whole school).
2. Early Intervention:
- Induction meeting with new parents prior to their daughter commencing school.
- School Booklet given to all new parents outlining rules etc. and also advising parents of the school’s responsibility to report absences of greater than 20 days to National Education Welfare Officer.
- School calendar for the following year given to parents in the summer term to facilitate family holiday plans for the next academic year.
- Bi-annual newsletter reminds existing parents of the school’s responsibilities as stated above.
- Homework is closely monitored by all class teachers, with differentiated work given to pupils where necessary. Appointments may be made with class teacher to discuss any difficulties in this area.
Senior Infants: Term 1 and 2: 10 minutes (Reading Book)
Term 3: 10 minutes (Written Homework)
Rang 1 and 2: 20 to 30 minutes
Rang 3 and 4: 30 to 40 minutes
Rang 5 and 6: 40 to 50 minutes
Uniforms are available to be used by pupils should they have difficulty in sourcing their own. Spare socks and underwear are kept in the school in case of accidents.
A supply of crackers and fruit is kept in the staffroom for pupils who may have forgotten their lunch.
Class based rewards include Pupil of the Week, Gaeilgeoir na Seachtaine, Table of the Week, Golden Time etc. Each September pupils with full attendance for the previous year are presented with a prize from the Principal.
Annual written school reports inform parents of the number of days their daughter was absent that year. Class teachers may raise concerns at Parent Teacher Meetings if required. Parents are sent notification from the Principal when their daughter has been absent a total of 15 days.
Activities are timetabled to encourage pupils to attend on Mondays and Fridays in particular. E.g. drama, hip-hop, music classes.
Parents/guardians are invited to engage in an induction process, through which the school’s policies and procedures in relation to attendance are explained. There is a focus on the value of regular attendance and on the importance of developing good attendance habits from Junior Infants onwards.
Parents/guardians can promote good school attendance by:
- Ensuring regular and punctual school attendance.
- Notifying the school if their children cannot attend for any reason.
- Working with the school and Education Welfare Service to resolve any attendance problems.
- Making sure their children understand that parents support good school attendance.
- Discussing planned absences with the school.
- Refraining, if at all possible, from taking holidays during school time.
- Showing an interest in their children’s school day and their children’s homework.
- Encouraging them to participate in school activities.
- Praising and encouraging their children’s achievements.
- Instilling in their children a positive self-concept and a positive sense of self-worth.
- Informing the school in writing of the reasons for absence from school.
- Ensuring, insofar as is possible, that children’s appointments (with dentists etc), are arranged for times outside of school hours.
- Contacting the school immediately, if they have concerns about absence or other related school matters.
- Notifying, in writing, the school if their child/children, particularly children in junior classes, are to be collected by someone not known to the teacher.
Strategies in the event of Non-Attendance:
Section 17 of the Education (Welfare) Act (2000), states that ‘the parent of a child shall cause the child concerned to attend a recognised school on each school day’.
Section 21 of the Act obliges schools to inform the Education Welfare Officer if a child is absent on more than 20 days in any school year, or if a child does not attend school on a regular basis.
In such cases the Education Welfare Officer (following all reasonable efforts by the Education Board to consult with the child’s parents and the Principal of the school) may serve a ‘School Attendance Notice’ on any parent who he/she concludes is failing or neglecting to cause the child to attend the school. A successful case taken against the parent may result in a fine and/or imprisonment.
Reasons for absence are recorded and reported to the EWB five times during the school year through an online system. An annual report is submitted – not more than six weeks following the end of the school year – detailing the overall level of attendance at the school during that school year. This information will be communicated to the school community through the school’s newsletter.
Procedures in relation to the Removal from register or Transfer from another school
Under Section 20 of the Education (Welfare) Act (2000), the Principal of a child’s current school must notify the Principal of the child’s previous school that the child is now registered in their school. The pupil must be then removed from register.
When a Principal receives notification that a child has been registered elsewhere he/she must notify the Principal of the pupil’s new school of any problems in relation to attendance at the pupil’s former school and of such matters relating to the child’s educational progress as he or she considers appropriate. This applies to pupils who transfer between primary schools and to pupils who transfer from primary to second-level education.
The success of any Attendance Policy is measured through:
- Improved attendance levels as measured through Leabhar Rolla records and statistical returns in the Clár Leabhar. ( Quarterly and Annually)
- Happy confident well-adjusted children.
- Positive parental feedback.
Roles and Responsibilities
Teachers: Daily vigilance and reporting of attendance trends.
Principal: Communication with parents and EWB and its officers.
Deputy Principal: Maintenance of monthly and yearly attendance figures.
Don’t let your Child Miss Out – NEWB 2004
Education Welfare Act 2000
Education Act 1998
Section 29 Education Act