included, engaged and involved- part 1: attendance in scottish schools

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5. Promoting attendance - school, community and authority initiatives

5.1 Authority and school objectives

The Scottish Executive's Quality Improvement Framework for Integrated Services for Children and Young People (2006) requires local authorities and their partners to set realistic and achievable local targets for improving attendance, and to ensure that specific groups, such as looked after children, are considered within this. It is expected that education authority and school development planning will reflect agreed local targets for improving attendance, and the process of Integrated Children's Services Planning is an opportunity to consider which of the other partner agencies involved can contribute to helping schools achieve the target. Any service involved in supporting vulnerable children or supporting parents has a potential role to play.

Local authority reviewing, monitoring and evaluation, including quality assurance in education, should support schools to develop good practice in promoting attendance and responding effectively to absence, recognising improved attendance and to reflect on the level of collaboration with other agencies to achieve this.

5.2 Raising the profile

Promotion of positive attendance at school can be a key aspect of supporting schools, and this can be achieved on an authority wide basis, ensuring key figures such as elected members, senior managers and youth groups are signed up to raising the profile of the benefits of full attendance. The promotion of full attendance and recognising improvements in attendance, can also help to convey positive messages about young people to the wider community. In turn, pupils, parents and the wider community may feel more encouraged to support efforts to improve attendance.

5.3 Community partnership

Many in communities regard truancy as a growing problem and will focus on the nuisance created by young people when not in school. Community safety partnerships may consider how they can work effectively with communities and parent councils to encourage their co-operation in responding to truancy.

The community can work together to make not being in school a difficulty rather than an accepted norm. Their primary concern may be the safety and wellbeing of young people, and they may wish to support an emphasis on the value of learning.

5.4 Police partnership initiatives

In many areas, police and education authorities collaborate on initiatives to seek truants and return them to school or to their parents. These initiatives send a clear message that truancy will not be tolerated, and the associated local media coverage reinforces this, having a short-term impact on truancy in those areas.

While these are positive initiatives, they must be backed by year-round efforts to tackle truancy, with sustained work to ensure an early response to the first signs of absence and to ensure planned support resolves any underlying causes of absence.