How to improve student attendance

When we did an audit of Jana Uddhar school in February 2015, we found the the average student attendance was 88.4%. (This figure did not include attendance of students in Class 1, which typically has the worst attendance, so the whole school figure was probably significantly lower.)

88.4% attendance sounds quite good. It’s not. It means that on average, students are missing almost a day of school each week (we have a six day week).

So this was something we urgently needed to address.

The first step was to start talking about attendance; noting when students were absent, asking their friends where they were, congratulating a student with patchy attendance when they turn up, and so on.

Then we asked all the students to give us the phone numbers of their parents / guardians (yes, the school had no record of this). Now, every single time a student is absent, one of our teachers phones their home to ask where they are. The response from parents and guardians has been very positive.

We have also begun after-lunch registrations (to make sure students who go out for lunch come back afterwards) and we hand out prizes in assembly every fortnight to students with 100% attendance.

They are simple steps, but as a result out attendance jumped to 95.8% (most recent figures). Not yet good enough, but a big improvement. That means, on average our students are getting 1.5 more lessons every week, compared to last year, or 45 extra lessons a year.

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