PA0226

Written evidence submitted by Q3 Langley Academy

 

School Context

Q3 Academy, Langley opened its doors in September 2016, becoming the first brand new secondary education provider in Sandwell in a decade. The Academy presently consists of 1320 students, of whom 33% are Pupil Premium, 26% are recipient to Free School Meals and 11% are SEN. Our attendance and persistent absence figures have been amongst the very best in the entire country – this is particularly impressive when considering the socio-economic context of the Academy (‘IDACI deprived’) and the broad cultural mix of our cohort. Sandwell has recently been identified as the fourth poorest borough in the UK and only recently the Director of Children & Education (Michael Jarrett MBE) wrote to all parents outlining the importance of attendance and the impact of good attendance on outcomes. (http://www.q3langley.org.uk/attend-school-for-the-best-start-in-life-sandwell-mbc/)

 

Our approach to attendance is based on robust conversations with parents and students alike and following a systematic process that offers support at all levels, thereby reflecting the recent OFSTED statement of ‘understanding and empathising but not tolerating’.

 

Late last week we received news from Fischer Family Trust, that our attendance figures for the first Autumn term (22/23) ranked us 20th in the entire country, and in fact 3rd in the similar schools category.

 

The Academy firmly believe that attendance is everyone’s responsibility.

 

Rationale

At Q3 Langley, we felt the impact of the pandemic and have put strategies in place to support families with improving attendance. The Academy's year to date attendance across all year groups is 96.1% which is 5.1% above the national average at 91%. Persistent absence is 9.02% to date, significantly below the Sandwell average (currently 26.7%).

 

Local attitudes have always been that ‘they are kids from Sandwell’ and there is a generational and regional attitude that we are working hard to change and give children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds every opportunity.

 

Q3 Langley opened up as a new Academy, to proudly be different and to ensure that everything is thought about, in order to allow every child the opportunity to reach every possible success and break generational cycles of underachievement in Sandwell.

 

The key blockers to high attendance in secondary schools are:

 

The impact of these blockers are:

 

We believe that the following procedures, policies and practices are effective in reducing persistent absence:

 

Attendance calls being divided amongst pastoral staff in each year group so that pastoral staff call students attached to their year groups. This enables staff to interact with parents with whom they have an existing relationship and therefore allows staff to leverage on previous conversations and experiences in order to encourage the child to come into the Academy. Due to prudent financial planning, the Academy has prioritised designated staffing to support with attendance strategies.

Students who are PP and SEN are prioritised when calls are made. On average following a first round of calls, 1 in 3 students are brought into the Academy. Our rigorous approach and interventions mean that parents are held accountable for their child's absence.

Pastoral staff also make a third round of calls at the end of the day. This is a 'soft' conversation to ensure that students who were absent are now feeling better and that we look forward to seeing them in the morning. It helps to reassure parents that we will support their child and therefore encourages them to attend the following day. This typically ensures that approximately 50% of students, who were off on a given day, return to the Academy on the following day.

Absence data is collated over a half-termly basis and letters are sent out to parents to encourage parents to come in to the Academy to have a meeting with their child's Head of Year. This is to support parents with strategies to enable their child to improve their attendance. This also develops the relationship between the parent and the child so that the parent does not feel isolated in tackling the issue of persistent absence. This works particularly well for the 'hard to reach' families who may otherwise feel stigmatised by the poor attendance of their child.

The Academy runs an internal competition amongst tutor groups via a league table of attendance. The winners each week are rewarded with a treat. This serves to encourage strong attendance amongst the cohort.

At the Academy, we have an attendance car which is used for all Door Step Visits. This means that for every child who is absent for a second day, a Door Step Visits is carried out to not only see the child for safeguarding purposes, but to encourage the child to come into the Academy with a member of staff. All pastoral staff are trained to drive the attendance car. This serves to drive better attendance with the 'hard to reach' and disadvantaged families (PP and SEN) and often results in students coming in to the Academy via this route (especially when parents are not able to bring in their child).

 

Q3 Academy Attendance Statistics

https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/pupil-absence-in-schools-in-england#dataBlock-e8bb84df-e69a-479b-b1d0-40cb6027de90-tables

 

 

 

 

 

Interventions:

 

Summary:

Attendance has been particularly challenging in 2021/22 as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Resilience amongst both parents and students has been at its lowest point since the Academy opened its doors in 2016. Attendance conversations with parents have been a lot less productive than in previous years.

Despite this, the Academy boasts an average that is almost 7% above national and a persistent absence rate that is 7.9%. Sandwell P.A, on the other hand, was circa 28% which meant that almost 1 in 3 children were persistently absent in Sandwell.

Looking forward, it is imperative that all staff understand and appreciate that attendance is everyone’s responsibility and not just the student or their parent/carer. As outlined above, a host of measures are in place to support attendance next year, including SSCs and AAs being given bespoke training on making attendance calls and particular focus being placed on engaging Heads of Year a lot more with the attendance process, especially the monitoring of students who are close to being persistently absent.

 

Case Studies

 

 

 

 

Effects of Covid-19:

Attendance has been particularly challenging in 2021/22 as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Resilience amongst both parents and students has been at its lowest point since the Academy opened its doors in 2016. Attendance conversations with parents have been a lot less productive than in previous years.

 

Remote learning vs In-class learning.

 

Despite this, the Academy boasts an average that is almost 7% above national and a persistent absence rate that is 7.9%. Sandwell P.A, on the other hand, was circa 28% which meant that almost 1 in 3 children were persistently absent in Sandwell.

 

Looking forward, it is imperative that all staff understand and appreciate that attendance is everyone’s responsibility and not just the student or their parent/carer. As outlined above, a host of measures are in place to support attendance next year, including SSCs and AAs being given bespoke training on making attendance calls and particular focus being placed on engaging Heads of Year a lot more with the attendance process, especially the monitoring of students who are close to being persistently absent.

 

Evidence of impact at Q3 and conclusions:

 

2022 validated GCSE results

240 Cohort

 

P8 = +0.68

A8 = 56.7

 

Disadv P8 = +0.51

This puts us in the top 88 schools nationally, and in the top 10 for a cohort of our size

 

Ebacc 84.8% (will be 90% this year '23)

Ebacc APS is 5.45 v Nat. of 4.27

 

EnMa 4+ = 81%

EnMa 5+ = 61%

 

We did the EngLit GCSE in 2021 for this cohort and so EngLit couldn't be counted. If they were counted then P8 = +0.9 and A8 = 58.4

 

ATTENDANCE STATS 2022-2023

3.9 % absence compared to national 9.0%

 

Persistent absence is <10% compared to 28% national and falling still.

 

Every single year since opening 2016/17 we’ve topped local authority league tables.

 

16/17: 98.2% (0% PA)

17/18: 98.0%

18/19: 98.2%

19/20: 98.0%

20/21: 97.5%

21/22: 96.4%

 

Autumn 2022 attendance puts us 20th in the UK and 3rd compared to similar schools, despite being in the 4th poorest borough in the country.

March 2023