Research School Network: ‘Think it through Thursdays’: Supporting pupil attendance through staff communications Supporting attendance


‘Think it through Thursdays’: Supporting pupil attendance through staff communications

Supporting attendance

Paula Stones is the Trust Attendance and Safeguarding Lead for WISE Academies. In this blog, she explains how she helps each member of staff at WISE Academies understand the important role they play in supporting children’s attendance.

Attendance is very much in the spotlight. There’s an increasing pressure on all schools to make improvements to support pupils and families where absences have increased, as well as maintain high levels of attendance.

Everyone’s business

In the same way that safeguarding is everyone’s business, so too is attendance.

Everyone who works in schools, in any role, has some connection to attendance. Everyone plays a part in supporting school leads to improve attendance, whether or not they are employed in a role directly linked to the management of attendance or attendance-related interventions.

Supporting attendance is a whole team effort and it’s important to empower all staff members to help in this shared endeavour.

Targeted, practical communications

As our Trust Attendance and Safeguarding Lead, I regularly communicate with staff about attendance and the important role each person plays.

Think It Through Thursdays’ is an email sent to colleagues which includes an area for consideration, or a thought’ linked to pupil attendance. It was introduced in December 2022 to help make sure that attendance is kept as a priority across the Trust.

Who gets the email, depends on the content. Sometimes it may be relevant to everyone, and on other occasions it may just be for specific groups including headteachers, designated safeguarding leads and attendance leads, pastoral staff, site supervisors, lunch staff, teachers, support staff, or office managers and head office staff. The area for thought is directly linked to specific job roles.

For example, I reminded the site supervisors how vital their work is helping to create a positive environment which can contribute to children feeling safe in school. I highlighted the importance of this and how it can influence children’s attendance.

On another occasion, I directed emails to office managers asking if sharing pupil attendance expectations are part of the staff induction process for new appointments. I’ve also encouraged all staff to think about how they greet children when they come back to school after a period of absence.

Here’s an example of one email I sent to our kitchen staff:


This is intended as a prompt for staff to reflect on their own practice and how they are contributing to improved attendance, or how they could work differently to ensure they are contributing to school attendance.

Working together

We’ve also celebrated everyone’s roles in our internal staff newsletter and highlighted how they have each helped to support our pupils to attend school.

Promoting a sense of how we can all work together to support pupils to attend school ensures we are all accountable. Together we can make a difference!

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