How to evaluate your school's absence and attendance figures

Read our tips on monitoring and challenging your school's attendance figures by questioning your senior leaders, benchmarking against national data, and understanding how Ofsted will use your data.

Last reviewed on 8 April 2024See updates
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 4426
Contents
  1. Your board should regularly review attendance data and help your leaders focus improvement efforts
  2. Understand what persistent and severe absence mean
  3. Ask your senior leaders questions
  4. Benchmark against national statistics 
  5. Make sure you know the law
  6. Consider the Ofsted criteria
  7. Severe absence may be a safeguarding issue

Your board should regularly review attendance data and help your leaders focus improvement efforts

This involves:

  • Regularly reviewing attendance data at board meetings (including looking at school-level trends and benchmarking with other schools)
  • Paying particular attention to pupil cohorts that have had poor attendance historically or face entrenched barriers to attendance. For example, pupils:
    • With a social worker
    • From a background or ethnicity where attendance has been low 
    • With a long-term medical condition
    • With special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND)
    • Who are eligible for free school meals
  • Working with your senior leaders to set goals or areas of focus for attendance and providing challenge and support on these areas

See the DfE's non-statutory guidance on working together to improve school attendance

Read our article on your role in improving school attendance to understand your other duties under the attendance guidance. 

Understand what persistent and severe absence mean

Persistent

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