Information Note for Families on Attendance and Punctuality
This week, the twice annual School Attendance Returns were due so I would like to take the opportunity to explain how attendance recording works in the school and our legal reporting obligations for Tusla.
Each class teacher records their pupils’ attendance daily using an online roll book on Aladdin. If a child arrives later than 08:30, their time of arrival is also recorded here. Pupils who arrive after 08:30 are required to sign the Late Book at the front office (Melinda or Ellen are there to help). At the end of the year, each child’s late arrivals (if any) are summed by Aladdin to calculate missed learning time over the course of the school year.
Schools have two mechanisms for reporting attendance to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency: 1) School Attendance Reports and 2) Discretionary Referrals.
1. School Attendance Reports
There are two reporting periods each school year: the first is September to December (inclusive) and the second is January to June (inclusive). Earlier this week, I submitted the first School Attendance Report for 2023-2024. The second report will be made after the last school day of the year (28/06/2024).
In this report, the school is required to list any pupil over the age of 6 years who has missed 20 schools days for any reason. You will be informed if your child is included in this report. It is rare that these cases lead to any follow-up, unless a significantly higher number of school days was missed, but it is possible. If it is followed up, the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) will ask whether the absences were explained. Explained absences (e.g. due to illness, etc) are not a cause for concern. A large number of unexplained absences may lead to further involvement from the EWO.
The number one thing we ask of parents is to engage with the school (via Aladdin or by email) to provide explanations for any absences (e.g. illness, family bereavement, etc). We understand that there are very valid reasons why a child may not be able to attend school; just keep us informed.
2. Discretionary Referrals
Discretionary referrals are made when a school is worried about a pupil’s attendance. This might be due to a lot of unexplained absences, a pattern of absence, significant ongoing issues with punctuality leading to a lot of missed learning time, etc. A school will refer a child to the EWO where they have concerns. The role of the EWO is primarily to offer support to families to improve attendance.
The school will always contact parents before making a referral to the EWO and will support where possible.
Key things to note:
- Please ensure your child arrives at school each day before 08:30.
- Be sure to enter an absence reason on Aladdin each time your child is absent from school.