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How an attendance management system can help reduce truancy rates

February, 2018

Following on from our last article on how parent engagement can help with reducing truancy rates at your school, having a Ministry of Education approved attendance management or early notification system can aid in this as well.

Early Notification (EN) is the use of text and/or email messages to notify parents that their child is inexplicably absent from school.

Parents have the opportunity to reply and notify the school of the reason for the absence (e.g. sickness) or that they aren’t aware of the absence, which could highlight a safety or truancy issue.

Wanganui City College is one school that has opted to use EN over traditional attendance management methods. Deputy Principal Doug Ewing says,

“The number one benefit to using School-links EN is the immediacy and the convenience of contacting parents for attendance matters. Rather than calling parents when a child is absent, secretarial staff send a text to parents about the situation. Email is a bit beyond where our parents are at as they’re mostly connected to texting on their cell phones – so texting is the most effective way to get a hold of them.”

Here are nine ways EN makes life easier for the school community:

Benefits of Early Notification for parents and caregivers

  • Fast notification of absences (which could potentially be a child safety issue).
  • Parents and caregivers can respond quickly and cost effectively.
  • It’s less embarrassing for parents or caregivers to respond to a text than a phone call if they have forgotten to notify the school of their child’s absence or/if the reason is personal.
  • Texting is more convenient for those who are unavailable to respond to personal calls during work or study hours.
  • Feedback from School-links’ customers, says that texts are the preferred method of school communication for most parents and caregivers.

Benefits of Early Notification for schools

  • Less time spent by the Attendance Officer in contacting caregivers of absent students.
  • Less expensive than calling mobile phones.
  • Responses go directly into the Student Management System and are easily viewed by the Attendance Officer, making them efficient to process (service offered by some EN providers).
  • Responses are saved in the Student Notes (service offered by some Student Management Systems).

To learn more about EN, download our white paper – The Role of Early Notification in Effective Attendance Management.

Having a Ministry of Education approved EN system can also potentially save your school money. Work out your potential savings with our handy calculator.


Reduce truancy rates by connecting with parents

January, 2018

Reduce truancy rates by connecting with parents

The issue of truancy for New Zealand schools reared its head again at the end of 2017, with attendance rates falling even further than previous years. The Ministry of Education reported the number of students regularly attending school fell from nearly 70 percent in Term 2, 2015 to 67 percent in the same period last year. Only 55 percent of Maori students were regularly showing up and 57 percent of Pacific students.

Increasing parent engagement and involvement at school and the wider school community is one way to help reduce truancy rates. Tai Tokerau/Northland Principal’s Association President, Pat Newman mentioned in this Radio NZ article that, “If you haven’t necessarily had a successful education when you were a pupil, then perhaps you don’t see it as important when you are a parent.”

This highlights that some parents may feel alienated, distrustful or disconnected with the school community. This should be of concern to schools, that parents who are involved in school life are more likely to be supportive of their child’s education and have better relationships with teachers.

Could your school put in more effort to include parents?

The key influencing predictor to parent support of their child’s learning is not parent or child behaviour or attitudes, but the school’s behaviour and attitude. When parents feel that the school is actively involving them, they generally respond by becoming more active in their child’s education.

Does your school have the right attitude to involving parents? Does it have an accommodating organisational structure? Are you using effective communication methodologies with your parents?

It is the school’s role to help parents feel welcome and to find a place in the school network where they feel valued and will make a positive impact.

However, even though some parents want to play a part in their child’s school life, they may not know how to contribute.

Check out this infographic for ideas on how parents can be involved in school life.

There are many different roles for parents to become involved that they may not be aware of. This is where strong communication between schools and families is essential.

Clear, effective communication between the school and parents will help to inform them of opportunities to contribute to the school and feel like the school really wants them to be a part of their community.

If cost and time consumption of regular communication to parents is a barrier, there are many technological alternatives to traditionally expensive letters, phone calls and paper notices.

Instant messaging apps, SMS integrated email and mass text messaging systems are popular, low cost communication options that schools across New Zealand are utilising to keep parents in the loop about school involvement opportunities.

Making parents feel more connected and involved with the school community can have a positive impact on their child’s education and relationship with the school, which is one way to help improve truancy rates in New Zealand.

To learn more about effective parent-school communication and strategies to involve parents at school, download the white paper: Upholding a Child’s Education – The Three-Legged Stool Effect.

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