How to talk to parents about attendance

Learn how to approach initial conversations about attendance with parents, and who in your school might be best placed to have them. Use our discussion guide to help build staff confidence around keeping conversations positive and what active listening looks like.

Last reviewed on 21 March 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 44402
  1. Start by having a 'quiet word' with parents
  2. Pick the right member of staff to have the conversation
  3. Find the right moment to approach parents
  4. Make sure everyone is clear on the purpose of the conversation
  5. Use a gentle tone and light questioning
  6. Show active listening
  7. Keep the conversation positive and supportive
  8. Create a plan of action together
  9. Further reading on improving attendance

The guidance in this article comes from our expert Nina Siddall-Ward, and Ofsted’s report on securing good attendance.

The DfE has published new non-statutory guidance on improving school attendance that applies from September 2022. Read the summary of updates

Start by having a 'quiet word' with parents

Approach parents personally to initiate a conversation about attendance. They’re more likely to respond positively if they get the chance to talk to you in an informal way.

It will also help build a more trusting, open relationship.

If the first contact about attendance is an official letter home, parents might view it as a telling off and be less likely to want to talk to you about any concerns or problems.

Pick the right member of staff to have the conversation

Identify someone who has a good relationship