According to the management guru Peter Drucker, the best way to predict the future is to create it. This applies very much to issues of attendance, truancy, lateness and general data gathering. It’s much easier to try to make sure things go right from the outset than to try to steer them back on course once they’ve gone wrong.
Here are 6 ways you can try to get everyone off on the right foot.
There is no reason that the register should not have been taken, with absences recorded, within a few seconds of the registration period ending. Groupcall Emerge makes this easy to do by synchronising with your school’s MIS, automatically filing data away in moments. Indeed, you’d have to try hard not to do it.
Teachers will fail to see the point of a fast registration process if it then takes the school office two hours to do anything with the information. Once pupils find out, they too will wonder why they should make the effort to arrive on time.
So ideally, the school office should start communicating with parents of unauthorised absentees within a few minutes of registration ending. That will convey the sub-text that the school is ‘on the case’, and that pupil safety and well-being are paramount.
Behaviour, both very good and very poor, should be recorded. In each case, parents should be informed. When it comes to poor behaviour, the school will no doubt have a scale of misdemeanours and their corresponding punishments. However, if small incidents seem hardly worthy of comment, it’s as well to recall the broken window idea: it has been found that in less than salubrious areas, if broken windows and litter and minor misdemeanours like fare dodging are dealt with rapidly, crime starts to decrease.
There is no reason in this day and age for parents to have to wait until the end of the year, or even the end of term, to find out how their child is doing. If a pupil has done exceptionally well (for them) in the lesson, when not inform parents straight away by text? If their concentration or grades start to fall, it would be a good idea to have a word with the pupil, or if necessary contact their parents, to find out what is going on.
If you find out when you’re about to go on a school trip that the register on your smartphone or tablet doesn’t seem to integrate with the school’s central information, that’s a little too late. Same when it comes to the fire attendance facility and the Help button. So, having trial runs every so often is a good idea, just as you have regular fire drills.
The common denominator
The common theme here is as follows. First, you have to ensure that the data is as up-to-date as possible, and getting to whoever needs it. That would be the school office under everyday circumstances, but your tablet perhaps on a school trip, and the Headteacher in an emergency.
Secondly, the data has to be acted upon quickly — otherwise there was no point in collecting it in the first place.
Thirdly, in all of this you are setting out your expectations — not only of pupils, but of their parents, and of course your staff.