Included, engaged and involved: part 1 - attendance in Scottish schools

Guidance on the management of attendance and absence in Scottish schools.

Ministerial Foreword

Making sure pupils are included, engaged and involved in their education is fundamental to achievement and attainment in school and ultimately to the economic prosperity of themselves and Scotland. This guidance looks at what schools and local authorities can do to promote attendance and manage absence. The joint concordat between the Scottish Government and local government provides an agreed framework of national outcomes. These outcomes support our shared aspirations for Scottish children and young people. They include the aims that our young people: are better educated, more skilled and more successful, are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors, responsible citizens; have the best start in life and are ready to succeed.

We know that for some young people, life presents particular challenges which will distract from learning. They may not be motivated by learning opportunities or there may be other barriers entirely beyond their control which prevent them from engaging fully with education control. Non attendance may be an indicator of issues or difficulties a child or young person is experiencing. We also know that the impact of non-attendance at school and non-engagement with learning significantly increases the likelihood of young people leaving school and not going on to further education, employment or training. This guidance therefore goes beyond the recording of attendance and absence and explores many of the circumstances which may lead young people to be disengaged from learning.

Included, Engaged and Involved does not stand alone. We are committed to ensuring that all children are included and supported to engage in and benefit from education through supporting schools to develop peaceful and positive learning environments; promoting positive behaviour; and, promoting positive relationships. Through personal support for pupils, our aim is for happy children to become successful learners, emotionally resilient and confident. Our standards for personal support are set out in Happy, Safe and Achieving their Potential, 2004, while the Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 will ensure a focus on promoting health and emotional well being of all those within a school community in the widest sense. The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 provides the framework for individual support which underpins young people's access to educational opportunities in Scotland. This framework enables authorities to provide support for learning, for any reason, in the short or long term. Patterns of attendance and absence often provide indicators of the need for support, for example, truancy may indicate concerns about school, a young carer may regularly be late to school after having taken care of the needs of the family at home.

A number of the responses to the consultation on this guidance suggested that a booklet for parents should be produced. We will develop a guide for parents as part of the Making the difference series of information for parents.

This document is part 1 of our approach to keeping all pupils included, engaged, and involved in learning. As part 2, we will review and revise the current circular 8/03 on Exclusion from School. This will enable similar linkages between exclusion and achievement to be explored, and will specifically address the needs of our most vulnerable children and families, including those young people who are looked after and accommodated and those with additional support needs, based within a similar context of promoting positive behaviour, promoting personal care and support, promoting individual learning planning; and, providing flexible curriculum opportunities and supporting children and young people to access education.

I trust this document will help and guide you in assisting our children and young people achieve their best.

signature of MAUREEN WATT

Minister for Schools and Skills
December 2007

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