Resource Hub Case Studies

Attendance Management: Leigh Academies Trust

Attendance Management: Leigh Academies Trust

/ Talya Garnett

Helping tackle absence at student-level at Leigh Academies Trust

Leigh Academies Trust is one of the largest multi-academy trusts in the UK with 32 primary, secondary, and special schools across Kent, Medway, and South East London. Although the Trust’s average attendance is now above the national average, it has had to navigate several challenges to improve the attendance of its 25,000+ students. We sat down with Trust Data Managers, Sam Curties and Elaine Harper, to discuss these challenges and find out how they are using Bromcom MIS and Bromcom Vision to tackle the school absence epidemic.

Using data to improve attendance

Like many other MATs and schools across the UK, one cause of the Trust’s attendance problems post-Covid was an increase in mental health issues among its students.

“Since Covid we have seen an increase in absences related to mental health issues” says Elaine. “Of course, over the last 18 months we have seen that the economic situation has compounded the absence problem.

“We’re providing our academies with robust data to arm and inform them, which helps. But attendance profiles have always been stubborn, even before Covid, and when it comes to improving attendance, you’re reliant on the student and their parents buying in.”

According to Sam, a data-driven approach has limitations when it comes to persistently absent children. The only solution is directly working with students at risk of being classed as permanently absent, and their parents, to help them come in more regularly. But what data can do is provide useful insights to support those that can action real change.

“With Bromcom MIS, we’ve been able to help pastoral teams identify students that need their support and prioritise those that need it the most.” says Sam.

Streamlining attendance tracking

The trust currently tracks attendance via a tool created in Power BI which was then integrated into Bromcom MIS. The attendance tracker is proving to be particularly useful for the Trust and its schools to help them monitor attendance closely and identify where action is needed, as Sam explains:

“Although every school has an attendance tracker of some sort, most are just conceptually good while the execution is problematic because of how complicated they are. We have moved our trackers into Bromcom so users now have text fields that enables them to add comments and dates so they can provide additional information and produce a better picture of attendance.

“Each student’s attendance builds up inside a mark sheet automatically, too, creating a highly accurate attendance record that requires no data input or data management by the teachers themselves.”

Before they adopted Bromcom, tracking attendance was a messy, time-consuming process that relied on users to export data from the MIS, manage the information in a spreadsheet, and then update the historic information. This not only resulted in inaccurate information but also inconsistent standards of accuracy across the trust.

With Bromcom MIS and Vision, schools get an accurate view of attendance from which they can extract actionable insights, and the trust gets a consistent overview of all their schools’ attendance.

Centralising Leigh Academies Trust

Attendance varies from school to school, and absence problems are more embedded in some than others. In the same vein, different academies are better at dealing with absence. With 32 completely different schools to manage, Bromcom Vision has been a “godsend” for Leigh Academies Trust.

“All our academies now sing from the same hymn sheet,” says Elaine. “Our schools can share good ideas and formats for improving attendance, and the Trust can easily roll out initiatives centrally.”

Sam agrees: “Bromcom Vision has provided us with the ability to centralise in a way that would be impossible to do with any other MIS. Not only is it making the actions to improve attendance more consistent across the Trust, it is improving consistency elsewhere, such as with marksheets, and our roles and permissions. In comparison to what else is out there, nothing comes close to Vision.”