Attendance

Don’t overlook the importance of trips to improve attendance

Opportunities outside of the classroom are vital to engaging pupils in school. They are an essential – not optional – part of our offer, says Abid Butt

Opportunities outside of the classroom are vital to engaging pupils in school. They are an essential – not optional – part of our offer, says Abid Butt

23 Oct 2023, 5:00

Conferences aside, attendance remains the hottest topic in education. In 2021/22, the overall absence rate was 7.6 per cent, up from around 4 to 5 per cent before the pandemic. In its report into persistent absence and support for disadvantaged pupils, the education select committee concluded that Covid and its aftermath has had a damaging effect on school attendance. This is especially worrying for children who already had a significant chunk of their learning disrupted by lockdowns.

I am proud that our attendance levels are higher than the national average for all learners. The Fischer Family Trust have just given us a National School Attendance Award for being in the top ten per cent of similar schools in England for attendance. 

These outcomes are down to the varied and collective approaches my team of staff use, including our learning culture, behaviour expectations and focused attendance clinics. There is no panacea when it comes to solving the attendance crisis. However, I believe the value of learning experiences outside of the traditional classroom are being overlooked when it comes to keeping children coming through the school gates.

From getting out of the habit to a more cautious culture after Covid, and from rising costs to squeezed budgets, there are many reasons why schools have backed away from school trips. Indeed, NFER research for the Sutton Trust finds that 50 per cent of heads say they have had to cut back due to funding, up from 21 per cent last year.

However, embracing all the learning opportunities found off site is an important tool to motivate children and young people to attend school. Children do not come to school to sit in one place for endless rote learning. It is our job to make what they need to learn both exciting and memorable. External visits and inviting opportunities in school are key to this. By linking cultural experiences to the curriculum, we can complement and supplement teaching in all subjects. 

The classic theatre trip is one all schools should be running. We recently organised a trip to watch The Lion King musical, on tour from the West End, making sure to widen the participation for the trip so that our disadvantaged children could benefit. For some of them, it was their first time at the theatre.

Regular trips make them look forward to coming to school

As part of our computer science curriculum, our learners experience the Enigma Machine at Bletchley Park. This allows them to fully appreciate the scope and ramifications of what they are learning in the context of history and prompts them to reflect more widely on the subject at hand. 

Our teachers have commented that young people are more engaged in what they are learning when it is connected to a real-life, out-of-classroom experience and that they continue to talk about the trips they have been on. Our learners have also shared that regular trips make them look forward to coming to school as they do not want to miss out on anything.

In its report, the education select committee noted that they had heard compelling evidence about the positive impact local sports-based interventions to improve attendance. They recommend that the department for education commission research to test the link between these and improved attendance.

I would like to see the government research the link between school trips and attendance, especially as the report also highlighted concerns about a decline in enrichment activities. They noted that £1 billion less had been spent on youth services in the past decade, and that measures such as arts, drama and music could also be used to reduce absences.

Children need to attend school every day in order to fully benefit from a well thought-out curriculum and develop a lifelong passion for learning. I hope other schools will refocus on the cultural capital accrued by trips going forward. I am convinced that it is one of the most important ways to make sure young people keep coming to school.

Latest education roles from

Electrical Installation Trainer

Electrical Installation Trainer

Barnsley College

Sessional Science Lab Technician

Sessional Science Lab Technician

Merton College

Sessional Lecturer – Plumbing

Sessional Lecturer – Plumbing

South Thames College

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Satis Education

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Ark Greenwich Free School

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspire creativity in your classroom. Sky Arts’ Access All Arts week is back!

Now in its third year, Access All Arts week is a nationwide celebration of creativity for primary schools (17-21...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Unleash the Power of Sport in your setting this summer! National School Sports Week is back!

Unleash the Power of Sport this summer with National School Sports Week powered by Monster Kickabout! From 17-23 June,...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Attendance

Butlin’s accused of ‘undermining’ school absence fight

Holiday firm offers four-night 'showtime term-time midweek breaks'

Samantha Booth
Attendance

Boosting attendance of ‘odd day’ absentees the ‘big prize’, says minister

The inside story of the government's latest drive to cut absences

Samantha Booth
Attendance

£2.3m absence mentoring pilot reaches just half of target

And just half of those reached achieved improved attendance

Freddie Whittaker
Attendance

ASCL president urges ‘change of tone’ as parental disputes drive absence

Politicians and commentators 'far too quick to take potshots at schools', says trust CEO John Camp

Freddie Whittaker

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *