36 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
• Attendance improves when schools engage students and parents
in positive ways to address absenteeism.
(Kirsten J. Hancock, Carrington C.J. Shepherd, David Lawrence & Stephen R.
Zubrick, 2013; Attendance Works, 2016)
The most highly appropriate, targeted, modified, and relevant program in
the world will not have the desired impact if the student doesn’t come to
school. It seems incredible that the most “learning vulnerable” or disengaged
students should miss school at all. Of course, the reason for absenteeism
may include a lack of success or self-worth experienced by those students
who are the very ones who most need to be there. Others include a lack of
clear communication between the school and home about the importance
of attendance, unclear parent expectations communicated to the child, lack
of guardian empowerment during extended parent absences, or simply a
failure on the part of parents to hold fast on going to school. Partnering
strongly with parents around school attendance – including being on time
for the start of the school day – seems so obvious, yet schools may skip
over this essential measure in devising appropriate programs for tricky
students. The importance of communicating that attendance matters for
achievement, and that every day counts, can not be overstated.
Alongside school attendance, making sure that every minute a child is in
school is as purposeful as possible remains a priority. Tricky students are
sometimes the ones who miss recess to catch up on work, or are seen
outside the principal’s office due to some misaction. The thing is, our
tricky kids often need recess more than most other children: they may
need support, boundaries, and a “close eye;” but, a student is not going to
get better at the social milieu that is the school playground by sitting out.
Similarly, not much learning takes place right outside the principal’s door.
Teachers need to view these measures - and others like them - as a last
resort, and aim – as much as is possible – to engage tricky students in the
mainstream of the school day.