Ofsted Tracker, Highlights & Insights

Welcome to SAfE’s latest Ofsted tracker, highlights and insights

This month along with Ofsted data, and inspection highlights we are asking:

How can leaders demonstrate the effectiveness of their strategies to tackle persistent absence?

Download Surrey’s September 2023 Inspection Tracker to find your school and access data by phase and cross-phase.

Ofsted Inspection Highlights for 2022/23

  • Last year, 2022/23, there were 118 Ofsted Inspections across Surrey (graded and ungraded). 105 have been published to date.

  • There was a 25% increase in Ofsted inspections completed last year compared to 2021/22

  • Across all Surrey phases, 76% of published graded inspections (section 5) have been judged to be good or outstanding.

  • Retention of Outstanding grade at a graded inspection (section 5) since September 2022 is 8.3%.

  • Retention or improvement on a Good grade at a graded inspection (section 5) since September 2022 is 92% .

*Data only references inspection in the 2022/23 academic year

*Data correct as of 11 September 2023, for published grades

*Data compares historic Ofsted outcomes, with graded (Section 5) outcomes since September 2022

How can leaders demonstrate the effectiveness of their strategies to tackle persistent absence?

The importance of good school attendance has been well researched, we know that periods of absence can have a significantly negative impact on the well being of pupils and their progress.

To summarise the current national context for persistent absence last year, 22.3% of pupil enrolments (almost one in five pupils) missed 10% or more of their possible sessions.

The persistent absence rate across the academic year 2022/23 were:

  • 17.2% in state-funded primary schools

  • 28.3% in state-funded secondary schools

  • 38.7% in state-funded special schools

Why do we have persistent absence?

Reasons for persistent absence are many and varied, but they have also changed and evolved. There are a growing number of social and emotional reasons, along with the impact of the recent pandemic disrupting the habits and structure of family units and health. Part of the Children’s Commissioner ‘The Big Ask’ audit in 2022 captured the views and reasons from persistently absent pupils.

Where do we start?

In order to tackle persistent absence, it must be identified as a priority through each and every aspect of the school, including:

  • Ethos and Value

  • Development plan

  • Safeguarding strategy

Seeing it as everyone’s business will further highlight that it is a key priority.

What does good look like?

A clear understanding of the size of issue and nature of absence within your school, through systematic analysis, will allow you to create universal and targeted strategies with appropriate focus and engagement. Completing this exercise based on last year’s attendance will help shape your actions, within this analysis consider identifying patterns and trends i.e. between siblings, friendship groups and times of the year. Any strategies universal or targeted need to be achievable and consistently acted on.  Regular revisiting of this by the Senior Leadership Team will keep this high on the schools agenda, allowing you to identify new trends, high risk pupils and demonstrate the impact and success of your strategies to improve persistent absence.

How can our Governors help?

Your Governors should be using the analysis to challenge strategies and outcomes, with actions and discussion minutes this is a useful for school self evaluation. Asking yourself the following questions will aid reflection and evaluation:

  • How effectively are we ‘drilling down’ into attendance data and then using this to identify patterns and trends for individual pupils or pupil groups?

  • What has the impact of our actions to improve attendance been?

  • Are we acting before attendance becomes an issue or only when attendance has dropped below expected levels?

Creating anonymised brief case studies for individual pupils and groups can demonstrate the impact and support the review and refinement of strategies, combined with the data these are useful for self-evaluation, governance and for external purposes.

Headteachers who worked with Inspectors to identify how they had successfully improved both overall attendance figures and persistent absence listed the following as implicit within their whole school thinking:

Objective

Seeing the improvement of attendance as continuous, with an aim to raise it above the national figures.

Clear Expectations

Setting clear expectations for all pupils from the earliest point to establish good patterns of attendance

Communication

Regular communications to parents and pupils highlighting the reinforcing the link between good attendance and achievement.

High Expectations

Having high expectations for every pupil’s attendance at school and communicating these clearly, strongly and consistently to parents and pupils from the earliest point.

Data Collation

Ensure that reasons for absence are recorded properly daily. The admin team/teachers understanding the correct DFE coding, what it constitutes and the circumstances in which it should be applied.

Active Listening

Listening to parents and pupils carefully to find out why they are not attending well enough so that they can act accordingly. OFSTED phrased this as, ‘listen, understand, empathise, support – but do not tolerate.’

Relationship Management

De-escalate discussions with parents by choosing the right member of staff and avoiding blame.

Demonstrating effective strategies to tackle persistent absence, schools can enhance the educational outcomes and well-being of their students when whole school strategies with a range of interventions based on data and evidence are considered and implemented consistently.

TESTIMONIAL

“Your visit last autumn was a catalyst for some of the transition we saw recognised today, and  prepared the team for the rigour of the inspection. As always – thank you for the insight, the feedback and the benefit of your knowledge and experience.”