Attendance support for Professionals working with children and families in Sutton 

School attendance, everyone’s business

Improving attendance is everyone’s business. The barriers to accessing education are wide and complex, both within and beyond the school gates, and are often specific to individual pupils and families. 

The DfE issued guidance in 2022 Working together to improve school attendance (publishing.service.gov.uk) for schools and local authorities.   

The publication is for:  

• All schools 

• Local authority attendance staff, early help lead practitioners, social workers, and virtual school heads  

• Statutory safeguarding (including police and integrated care boards) and other local partners  

• This guidance may also be useful for parents and carers 

It is important that children get the most out of their school experience and their attainment, wellbeing and wider life chances are supported. Regular attendance is also a supportive factor for the most vulnerable pupils. 

What is good attendance?  

There are 190 school days in each school year and attendance is calculated as a rolling percentage through the academic year. Schools set an expectation for attendance in their attendance policy. All children of statutory school age are expected to be in school everyday and any days missed is missed learning and support.  

Any pupil with attendance of 90% or below id classed as persistently absent. If a child is attending 90% of the time, they are missing 10% of their education, which is almost a month of lost learning a year. Any pupil with attendance of 50% or below is classed as severely absent and will have missed half of their lessons. It has been evidenced that pupils with higher attendance were more likely to learn and achieved better academic outcomes.  

Further information about attendance for the families you are working with can be found in the Attendance Support Team of the For Families section of the website. 

Attendance Support Team 

Cognus’ Attendance Support Team (AST) support education settings, children and young people, parents/carers to ensure attendance levels are maintained at appropriate levels. We recognise the importance of working holistically with a family to identify and remove barriers to good attendance and working with our multi-agency network to provide support that may be needed. 

Every school in Sutton has an allocated officer who meets with the school termly.  

Our Attendance Support Team provides the following core functions: 

Termly network meetings provide an opportunity to bring schools across the area together to communicate messages, provide advice and share best practice between schools and trusts. We also aim to regularly invite services from across the area to provide updates and advice on support available for children and families.  

Allocated officers attend termly Targeting Support Meetings with their allocated schools, using attendance data to identify pupils and cohorts at risk of poor attendance and agree targeted actions and access to services for those pupils.

In addition to continuing to work in partnership with partners in Sutton’s Early Help Service to support access to intensive work with families to provide practical whole-family support where needed to tackle the causes of absenteeism and unblock the barriers to attendance, the Attendance Support Team attend the local area Vulnerable Pupil Panels in order to provide attendance advice and support for pupils with complex support needs.  

An Attendance Panel is currently being piloted to serve as a mechanism for schools/partners to gain access to advice and support from multi-agency professionals regardless of whether the case ordinarily meets usual thresholds and receive support to move ‘stuck’ cases forward.

This is provided where voluntary support has not been successful or engaged with. The Working Together to Improve School Attendance guidance highlights that schools, trusts and local authorities are expected to work together and make use of the full range of legal interventions rather than relying solely on fixed penalty notices or prosecution. It is for individual schools and local authorities to decide whether to use them in an individual case after considering the individual circumstances of a family.  

The Attendance Support Team holds responsibility for the following legal interventions: 

What to do if you are worried about a child’s attendance at school?

To facilitate effective multiagency support for families, the AST are able to offer advice on the next steps that a professional can take to address attendance concerns. All schools in Sutton have a named AST officer. 

Before contacting the appropriate officer it is important to establish if the child has a school place or are they registered as being electively home educated (EHE)or education otherwise than at school (EOTAS)? If they are EHE or EOTAS you need to contact the relevant team by using the links above.  

If you know the school that the child is enrolled at, use the allocations table to identify the appropriate officer to contact for advice. Contact details can be found here.  

If you are unable to find out which school the child is enrolled at please contact us at attendance@cognus.org.uk  

For further information about ways to support children to attend school, please refer to the Graduated Response for attendance.  

Additional guidance