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The Norfolk Attendance Strategy - Attendance is Everyone's Business

Norfolk Children's Services Attendance Strategy: Attendance is Everyone's Business

In line with the expectations of Working Together to Improve School Attendance, Norfolk Children's Services Department has consulted with schools and a range of local partners to devise a strategic approach to improving school attendance in Norfolk. This Strategy has been developed to help the Local Authority, schools, settings and other services understand what we need to do to work in a more coherent way, making the best use of resources available, in order to ensure that:

  • All children and young people can make the most of the opportunities provided by attending school.
  • Systems are developed to provide the LA with accurate and contemporaneous attendance data.
  • Data is used to identify patterns and trends and systems are responsive to these supporting schools to intervene early and prevent escalation of concerns.
  • Through training and guidance, the workforce understands the LA's responsibilities for school attendance, they know who to contact for support and are confident to address concerns about school attendance.
  • Responses to concerns about pupil absence at an individual, institutional and locality level are co-ordinated across teams. Schools, parents and children are clear about what support is on offer as well as their responsibilities.

You can read the Strategy and think about what is means for you, your school or the team you work in by  following this link (PDF) [1MB]. The Attendance Team has also created a briefing about the Strategy and a discussion exercise for teams to undertake on YouTube. This activity will help all teams consider the impact that school attendance has on their work and how the Strategy could positively impact the young people they work with.

Our strategic approach is divided into 4 main priorities.  Please click on the links to expand the section for further information about these areas of work and key achievements.

Norfolk Attendance Strategy

Relationships and Communication

What we aim to do:

  • Consult with schools, children, parents and carers to understand the barriers as well as enablers to good school attendance and what they need help with to achieve this.
  • Analyse feedback to give clear messages about school attendance to parents through a variety of methods including media campaigns.
  • Co-ordinate strategies and services to ensure that messages on attendance are consistent and that information is shared appropriately.
  • Connect with targeted services including Voluntary Community Sector partners to understand current service delivery and how their work can support the promotion of good school attendance.

What we have done so far:

  • Awareness raising activities across the Partnership including a formal launch of the Strategy endorsed by the Executive Director for Children's Services and the Chair of the NSCP.
  • As part of the launch, services were provided with an activity to undertake during team meetings in order to raise awareness and discuss how they can contribute to this vision and aims.
  • A parent survey was launched in July 2023 in order to understand the support and advice parents and carers need. We received over 800 responses to this survey and we are analysing the findings to inform further practice development and targeted campaigns.
  • We have consulted with one of the local Youth Advisory Boards who have provided valuable feedback which is informing our approach.


Effective Intervention

What we aim to do:

  • We will create a clearly defined pathway for schools, families and other professionals to support them to set clear expectations about attendance, identify and support vulnerable groups by responding to attendance concerns at the earliest opportunity.

What we have done so far:

  • We have created a Staged intervention pathway in accordance with the requirements of Working together to improve school attendance and the NSCP Continuum of Needs guidance.
  • We have revised the Attendance Toolkit has been redesigned to provide guidance to any professional working with children and families.  It includes guidance on early intervention and effective planning as well as formal support options where required in response to persistent and severe absence.
  • In order to support practitioners with this area of work, the Attendance Team now run weekly attendance surgeries that provide anyone working with a child where school attendance is of concern can receive support and advice; further information about the surgeries can be accessed here (Word doc) [53KB].
  • A framework for Termly targeting support meetings has been developed and the Attendance Team has been offering these to all schools since the beginning of the Academic Year 2022-23.
  • The Attendance Service has worked in parallel with the Family Group Conferencing & Family Network Advisory Service to ensure that families who are experiencing barriers to regular attendance are able to access support at the appropriate points by this service.
  • The Virtual School & Attendance Team have worked together to create an additional AEO post that will focus collaborating with schools and relevant professionals to monitor and improve the attendance of children with a social worker.


Systems and Data

What we aim to do:

  • Drive forward the live data feed to enable the use of contemporary data to target interventions and reduce absence.
  • Develop a clear system for monitoring all relevant data which outlines respective teams' roles and responsibility and frequency of the activity.
  • Share data and emerging patterns and trends routinely with school leaders and attendance leads individually and collectively through networks and in training.
  • Support schools to understand and own their data, analyse it accurately, identify trends and compare it with the national picture, have a clear picture of the reasons for absence, understand their attendance profile, and have in place actions for improvement.

What we have done so far:

  • Undertaken work with school leaders to develop a system for gathering live attendance data and nationally as a critical partner to the work the DfE is doing nationally regarding attendance data.


Workforce Development

What we aim to do:

  • Enhance the existing offer of training, support and guidance to schools based on consultation, learning from audit and needs analysis.
  • Create a training offer for staff in other services to ensure our partners understand their role in supporting good school attendance and understand where to access further advice and support.
  • Provide opportunities for practitioners to problem solve, reflect on practice, coach and shadow others.
  • Identify, collate and share good practice highlighting the impact of those interventions for children and their families as well as on school standards.
  • Develop an attendance self-assessment for schools to evaluate the whole school approach to managing school attendance.

What we have done so far:

  • Created and published a self-evaluation framework for schools that is available via My School.
  • Developed a whole school training package in response to learning from the SEF.
  • The Attendance Team has been hosting a county-wide termly network meeting for all schools in Norfolk and have expanded this offer since the beginning of the academic year 2022-23 to include the development of locality-based attendance networks.
  • We are currently in the process of developing an eLearning module that will be available to anyone working with children and young people to help them understand more about school attendance and the contribution they can make to our local approach.
  • The Attendance Team have been running webcasts for schools throughout the academic year. Recordings can be accessed on the Training and webinars page of this website.


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