MIS functionality: Attendance

In our last post we featured reporting and analytics, and specifically asked about AI. Today we turn the spotlight on attendance functionality.

If you are thinking of changing your MIS, it is worth checking the various considerations that are needed to be made.

This is the link to our own ‘Considerations‘ blog where you can also download our free document outlining the steps to take.

The DfE also provide some guidance which you can access here.

Things to consider

All MIS’s should include some or all of the following:

As a rough guide:

Basic Requirements for UK School (Attendance Recording) as explained in the DfE ‘Working together to improve school attendance’ document 2024:

  • The law requires all schools including independent schools to have an admission register and, except for schools where all pupils are boarders, an attendance register. These registers must be kept electronically. (Para 31)
  • Schools must also take the attendance register at the start of each morning session of each school day and once during each afternoon session. On each occasion they must record whether each registered pupil is physically present in school or, if not, the reason they are not in school by using the appropriate national attendance and absence codes. (Para 34)
  • Schools are expected to use an electronic management information system to keep their attendance and admission registers to improve accuracy, speed up the process of sharing and analysing information, and make returns to local authorities and DfE easier. (Para 35)
  • Schools, particularly secondary schools, may also wish to monitor lesson attendance within sessions to identify patterns of absence within the school day and deal with any pupils who are on site but not attending lessons through pastoral and special educational needs or disability support or behaviour policy. (Para 44)
  • Schools must provide specific pupil information on request to the Secretary of State. The easiest way to meet this requirement is having an electronic management information system containing the required information. (Para 51)
  • Academy trusts and governing bodies of maintained schools are ultimately responsible for ensuring due regard to guidance and compliance with the law on school attendance. (Para 76)

Desirable Features (“Nice to Haves”) in UK School MIS Systems (Attendance Recording):

  1. Automated Alerts: The MIS should provide automated alerts for low attendance or unusual patterns, allowing timely intervention.
  1. Real-Time Data: Access to up-to-date attendance data enables informed decision-making.
  1. Parent Notifications: Parents should receive instant notifications about their child’s attendance or absence.
  1. Integration with Other Modules: Seamless integration with timetabling and options modules to ensure efficient coordination.
  1. Data Visualization: Visual representations (graphs, charts) enhance clarity when analysing attendance trends.
  1. Mobile Accessibility: The system should be accessible via mobile devices for staff on the go.
  1. Customizable Reports: Schools appreciate the ability to create custom attendance reports based on their specific needs.
  1. Historical Tracking: The MIS should allow tracking of attendance history over time.

AI’s Role in Attendance Recording:

  • Predictive Analytics: AI can identify patterns, helping schools identify potential issues early.
  • Automated Data Entry: AI can automate data entry from various sources, reducing manual effort.
  • Anomaly Detection: AI algorithms can detect unusual attendance patterns or trends.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): AI-powered chatbots can handle attendance queries from staff, parents, and students.

We asked all MIS providers to let us know what they offer for attendance, and to let us have a paragraph or two on each element they offer.

For simplicity, as usual, we’ve listed the MIS’s in alphabetical order:

Alongside all the statutory attendance functionality you’d expect, Arbor allows you to: 

  • Take attendance on a visual seating plan
  • Track and benchmark attendance live across your school, MAT, LA or government, using Arbor’s live national averages and percentiles (which match the DfE’s calculations) 
  • Set attendance thresholds and get alerts when groups breach them 
  • Instantly follow-up with late or absent students in one click using custom  email/SMS/in-app messages
  • Spot patterns and trends using correlations, identifying for example the overlap between when siblings or friends are off together 

Bromcom MIS users can keep track of attendance with automated alerts and an advanced dashboard.

Notifications will show when students are getting close to becoming a persistent absentee and staff can record interventions to demonstrate a course of action.

Attendance functionality is fully included in the PowerSchool SIS / MIS. 

This allows educators to quickly take attendance using their student list or a seating chart. 

Attendance values are preset by administrators (example: present, virtually present, tardy, sick, etc). Parents get an immediate alert on our free mobile app when their child is absent / late. 

Administrators get full visibility into attendance reports and dashboards – frequently used reports include absences with low grades, consecutive absences, and teacher attendance completed.

SIMS attendance analysis and alerts have been built up from customer feedback over the last 20 years and our school level reporting is unrivalled.

Teachers and school leaders have access to data to quickly identify trends and patterns in pupil data and see a complete picture of school information. SIMS Discover also provides automated system alerts when a pupil’s attendance drops or raises, allowing schools to put early interventions in place where needed. With attendance playing such a vital role in enhancing student success, we strategically prioritised this area within SIMS Next Gen. Today, thousands of teachers use Next Gen to record attendance – from anywhere, on any device.

Modules available now include:

  • Statutory Attendance Register
  • Lesson Attendance Register
  • Meal Choice Register
  • Fire Register

What’s next for Attendance Management in SIMS?

A set of brand-new, fully configurable attendance reports will be released in Next Gen during the summer term. Detailed attendance analytics that fulfils not only statutory obligations but goes beyond. Next Gen will provide quick insights that allow schools to take rapid, proactive measures to improve attendance through a range of intuitive and interactive visualisations.

Educators and leaders will have easy access to actionable insights in Next Gen. This will enable them to:

  • Analyse and present high level attendance data to key stakeholders
  • Compare overall attendance data between key cohorts
  • See a detailed breakdown of students’ attendance codes over a chosen period
  • Identify students who are persistent and/or severe absentees and see a breakdown of reasons for absences
  • See patterns and trends in attendance over periods of time for the whole school, year groups and individual pupils

SIMS Group Analytics gives MATs the ability to track, monitor and analyse data from individual schools so attendance officers can easily spot trends and areas for improvement. They can also compare attendance across schools and with averages, both for their MAT and nationally, providing clear benchmarks to identify areas of strength and challenge.

If we receive further information from additional MIS providers, we’ll update this post accordingly.

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