We received this anonymous letter through the post. Since it neither identifies the Academy or the sender we are unable to investigate the allegation, nor prove or disprove it. However it is not the first time that such comments have been made about how some Academies record attendance. We are posting it to reinforce the concerns that many people feel about the pressure that Academies are under to deliver, and that because they are no longer accountable to the Local Authority, that such problems can develop without any checks.
Anti Academies Alliance
PO Box 14412
23rd September 2011
I work in an Academy school and was initially pleased about this as I thought it would be good for the children. However, at my academy I have been instructed to record all children who are educated off-site as a B code. This means educated off-site but for the purposes of the statistics it means that they are present in school. While under local authority control we were required to contact the off-site provider each day to confirm that the pupil was attending their provision and if they did not attend for a good reason (i.e. illness) they were marked as absent and generally the absence was not authorised. Generally the most challenging children who are not engaged with mainstream education are offered off-site provision and clearly ensuring they are attending the provision is important. My concern is that these most vulnerable children are being written off in an effort to make it look like academies are working.
In my view, coding a child as B when they are not attending their provision is a means of fiddling the figures and I am writing to you in the hope that you can use this information when informing parents about the true nature of academies. They are sold to the public on the basis that they are good for the children and can turn attendance around. However, this is not the case.
Children are also being marked as ill when their attendance is poor. When under local authority control they would have been required to provide medical evidence otherwise the absence would be marked as unauthorised. Again, this means that the levels of unauthorised absence are reduced.
Finally, we have been told to take a pupil off roll who has decided to leave the school and move elsewhere prior to them actually attending the new provision. Again, under local authority control we would not take a child off roll until we had confirmed that they had started at their new school. This meant coding their absence as unauthorised. Clearly, if they are removed from roll prior to taking up their new provision it makes the attendance figures at the school look good. Using this system makes a child more vulnerable to being lost in the system.
Clearly if I were to give you my name I could find myself in a difficult situation in my work and therefore am not giving my name or address. However, I hope this information is of use to you and that it helps in the fight against academies.