The introduction of technology in schools has revolutionised many aspects of a teacher’s job, from homework to behavioural policy. Attendance is something that many schools heavily monitor, but the factors that influence it aren’t always completely straight forward. As school absence continues to improve year on year in the UK, we look at how technology is driving change in school attendance policy and further improving our students’ punctuality.
A government report on school absence in state funded primary, secondary and special schools found that authorised absence averaged at around three days per year in the UK, with around one day of unauthorised absences per year. But don’t be fooled, positive sounding stats can also mask more serious problems within our schools.
For example, a student having 90% attendance throughout school might not seem too bad, as its only 5% below what the government considers to be good attendance. However, 90% attendance over the course of a student’s time at secondary school equates to two full terms of missed lessons.
By using more online resources, schools can build an environment where perfect attendance is possible school-wide. Students will arrive on time and be ready to learn, whilst teachers will have access to records for assessment and reporting. It might sound like something of a fantasy, but it’s a world that’s much closer than we might think.
Using online resources, both to support homework and in the classroom, can improve student engagement, boost punctual homework hand-ins and improve overall attendance. A report from the 8th Annual Conference on Virtual Learning even found that, “Web-based e-learning materials had a positive impact on students’ interest, motivation, lessons attendance and exam success.” The report also found that using technology only worked to engage students when it was used purposefully so it’s important that teachers take care when using online resources to ensure they only select valuable material.
Having all attendance records online, in a place where all appropriate staff can find them, makes attendance much easier to deal with, no matter which classroom you are in or which class you are teaching. It also affords members of the SLT an overview of all attendance records for reporting and analysis. With this overall view, SLT are empowered to make decisions and amend attendance policy and measure the effects these actions have, with much less effort than would normally be required with paper-based and other offline systems.
Technology also continues to develop the link between school and parents. By creating a secure channel of communication, parents have access to information regarding their child and are able to engage more in homework and school events, without relying on messages passed on via the memory of students or the safe passage of information slips. With better communication between parents and teachers, the ‘blind spot’ of attendance can be addressed and phone calls home; an inconvenience to both the teacher and the parent, can be greatly reduced.
Technology’s impact on education has been unprecedented, it has transformed almost every area of school life and attendance has seen one of the most significant transformations. Thanks to dedicated attendance software, schools are able to view whole-school attendance statistics, unify teachers’ approach to attendance policy and make attendance visible to parents, giving them more insight into their child’s performance. Attendance is now transparent, efficient and less time consuming, reducing teacher workload, increasing student engagement and allowing better communication with parents.