Attendance Strategy

Strategy of Attendance 2017-2019


This strategy has been drafted in consultation with teaching and SNA staff; Parents Association and the Student Council; and will be communicated to all partners –


* provided to all staff

* sent home to parents/guardians

* Published on Website



In St. Columba’s Comprehensive School we have a very good attendance rate (93%) which compares very favourably with national statistics in our sector (Community and Comprehensive – 91.9%) and with the overall national average of 92.5%.


This Strategy of Attendance aims to:


– work to protect the care, safety and welfare of all students

– facilitate continuity and progression in the learning process

– specifically target improvement at senior level

– ensure that school is a place where students participate at all levels

– ensure that school is a place where students are safe, happy, supported and enjoy learning and being together and that they benefit fully from the opportunities the school offers them

– ensure that all stakeholders – parents/guardians, students and teachers are aware of their roles and responsibilities to maximise attendance at school

-To ensure the school fulfils its legal obligations in accordance with the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and other relevant acts. Under the Act, Education Welfare Boards have been established to oversee school attendance nationwide and each school has been assigned an Education Welfare Officer whose duty it is to liaise with the school in relation to any attendance problems which may emerge. The Principal must inform the Educational Welfare Officer where any of the following occur:

I. A student is suspended from school for a period of not less than six days

2. The aggregate number of school days on which a student is absent from school during a school year is not less than twenty

3. A student’s name is, for whatever reason, removed from the register by the Principal

4. A student is, in the opinion of the Principal of the school in which he/she is registered, not attending school regularly



We recognise the clear and direct relationship between regular school attendance and student attainment. This finding was verified in the school self-evaluation process in 2013/14. Overall good attendance engenders a positive attitude to school and learning and improves results while the impact of poor attendance can affect wider aspects of a student’s life, such as weak peer relationships, poorer sense of connection with school.

Parent/Guardians have a legal duty to ensure their child who is attending a recognised school is at school on every day that the school is open, unless there is a genuine reason for him or her not to attend (section 17 of Education(Welfare) Act 2000. Only absences relating to activities organised by the school or in which the school is involved can be authorised by the principal (section 21(9) of Education (welfare) Act 2000). Therefore the school cannot give ‘permission’ for holiday absences during term time.


School times

School begins at 9:00 every morning

All students and teachers are expected to be on time

Calendar is published in the school journal.


Day to day implementation:

I. Morning roll call is taken in the first class in the morning by the class teacher. The roll is recorded electronically on VSware. Absence notes are submitted to the teacher. He/she will leave the notes in the office before the end of morning break.

II. Those arriving after the start of class at 9 am are recorded as late by the class teacher.

III. Students who arrive at school after 9.20 am are required to sign in at the School Reception. The Administrator on duty will amend to record from absence unexplained to late explained/unexplained.

IV. Attendance is also entered into VSware for every class period by the relevant Class Teacher.

V. Where students are absent from school for school-related extra-curricular activities, this is entered in the system by Admin staff as school business. The teacher who oversees the activity prepares a list of the names and, prior to departure, posts this on the Staff Notice Board and provides a copy of the list to Reception. If a student listed is absent from the trip, the teacher will notify the Admin Staff of same.



Notification of Student Absence

When a student is absent from school during part of a school day or for a school day or for more than a school day, Section 18 of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 places a legal duty on parents to notify the principal about reasons for the child’s absence.

On the first day (or in advance) of a student’s absence, the school should be notified by phone with the reason for the absence.

On return to school the student must provide a written explanation on one of the tear-off absence slips at the back of the journal. This slip should be given to the class teacher who then forwards it to the office.

Details of students with recorded absences of 20 days or more are reported to TUSLA as required by law. In these cases parents/guardians will receive a standard letter from the school explaining that a report has been made.

When a student is marked absent at roll call and no message has been received the parent/guardian receives a text from VSware stating that their child is absent. A response to this text is required to confirm the absence.


Continued absence

When a student has three unexplained absences a letter will be sent home detailing the absences and requesting an explanation. If the situation persists parents/ guardians will invited in to meet with a member of the Student Support Team.


Identifying at risk students

Attendance will be monitored by the Year Head and those at risk will be identified and brought to the attention of the Student Support Team meetings. Specific interventions will be designed to meet the need of the student.


Strategies for promoting Attendance



* Class attendance is marked on VSware for each class period

* Attendance record is included on Term Reports

* There is a high expectation of students’ attendance

* Attendance is stressed and discussed at Parents’ evenings

* The link between attendance and attainment is stressed at the information meeting for incoming First Year students.

* Recognition of outstanding attendance at the Graduation ceremony for Leaving Certificate students

* Class teacher interactions

* Guidance support

* Student Support Team Meetings

* Linking good attendance to rewards such as trips

* Informal chats with class teachers, Year Heads, Deputy Principal and Principal

* Extra- Curricular activities

* Promoting ‘student voice’ in school matters via the student council, mentors, Health Promoting Schools’ Team, etc

* Mentor system to aid the first year students to settle in and connect with their new school


Emerging Strategies introduced in 2017/8


* Written attendance strategy detailing all the components of attendance

* Attendance record available to parents/guardians on VSware

* Best class attendance in all years is identified, extolled and rewarded

* Attendance is considered before place on any trip is allocated

* Greater emphasis of collection of notes by form teacher

* A formal attendance report from VSware to be part of all Student Support team meetings

* Letter home after 3 unexplained absences and meeting if situation persists.

* Teacher comment on report to include no of classes missed if appropriate

* Standardisation of recognition of attendance in each year

* Greater use of the Office 365 system – where students can get details of homework or classwork missed


Leaving School before the end of the school day

No student may leave the school without permission under any circumstances; students who have to leave for an appointment must have a note in their journal signed by parent/guardian, this note should be presented to the teacher at roll call. The teacher signs the note and the student shows the note when they sign out in the office.

If a student is unwell during the day and needs to go home, they report to the office and the clerical officer contacts a parent/guardian. The student will wait in the canteen if collection is possible immediately. If not he/she will return to class until someone comes to collect.

Parent/Guardian should be contactable at all times (or nominate an emergency contact) in case of emergency and make arrangements to collect a sick child from school.


The first school bell goes at 8:55 at which time students should make their way to class. The second bell goes at 9:00 when roll call is taken. Therefore after 9:00 students are considered late.

After 9:20 students should sign the Late Book in the office.

A note is needed with an adequate reason if you are late. Notes that state slept it out or the bus was late are not adequate reasons and will not be accepted. Lates are not counted in exceptional circumstances – bus strike, inclement weather etc.

If a student has three lates he/she will be given a lunchtime detention.


Dealing with chronic absenteeism

Identifying, on a case by case basis, those with 5-13 days absence and, where it is necessary or appropriate, devising individually tailored strategies including:


Reduced or tailored Timetable

Guidance Support

Regular contact with home







TUSLA Child and Family Agency is informed if;

• A child is expelled

• A child is suspended for 6 days or more

• A child has missed more than 20 days


TUSLA Child and Family Agency is furnished with the total attendances in the school year through the Annual Report Form which is completed on-line. Parents/Guardians will be informed if a report is made to TUSLA.



The success of this Attendance Strategy is measured through:

* Improved attendance levels as measured through statistical returns

* Positive parental feedback

* Teacher feedback

* Student Feedback



Implementation/Ratification and Review

This policy was ratified by the BoM of St. Columba’s Comprehensive School on the 12th December 2017. It will be reviewed again in Term 1 2019.