Benefits of Good School Attendance Systems in Education

By Jocelyn Levy | 2nd November 2020 | 11 min read

It goes without saying that attendance is a fundamentally important part of education – it doesn’t really work without it. Educational organisations need a reliable way of recording school attendance, not only so they can monitor poor attendance records of students, but also so they can be certain of who is on-site in an emergency. Not to mention a school’s legal obligation to accurately record attendance.

A strong school attendance system is all about ensuring health and safety in a very real way. We’re not talking about the standard definition of health and safety – but real tangible solutions – that improve the security of an educational organisation and improve the well-being and health of its students. In fact, a number of the solutions available here at BioStore fulfill that criteria.

Tying attendance to catering in primary schools

The safety of children is obviously of paramount importance in primary schools. Schools need an attendance system that is clear and error free. The best solution for this is to use biometrics. However, they are not particularly suitable for primary schools, as students are rapidly growing at that age, and biometrics such as a fingerprint, would quickly become outdated and re-registration would be required.

The recommended solution for primary schools is to link attendance to the cashless catering solution. Pupils at the start of the school day are called forward to choose their meal (or confirm the choice of a pre-ordered meal) using an interactive smart board. As they choose their school meal or indicate they are eating a packed lunch – they confirm their attendance.

There are a number of benefits to this system. Registration mistakes or miss-understandings are extremely unlikely with a system that requires children to come up and choose their meal on a board everyone can see. It also provides an opportunity for the pupil to confirm their meal choice for the day, therefore avoiding lunchtime issues such as not liking the food ordered, or changing their mind – defeating the object of better school meal management.

But perhaps the biggest benefit is the head-start it gives the catering staff at the school. They know exactly what is to be expected of them at lunchtime and how much of each meal to make. They can operate much more efficiently and minimise waste.

Security in secondary schools

Once students enter secondary school and beyond – that’s when it becomes viable to start using biometrics as a means of recording attendance. Students simply sign in with the touch of a finger when they enter a class room. Unlike in primary schools where students have typically one classroom for the day – in secondary schools, students move all over the site. That’s why it can be greatly invaluable to have a very quick and hassle-free student attendance system. Teachers can get on with teaching straight away – because attendance is recorded in a secure, fool-proof way as students enter the classroom.

In addition to the use of biometrics, smartcards can also be used to meet current legislation for the Protection of Freedoms Act. BioStore provides each installation with a Card Management Bureau service, providing an opt-out solution for students who do not opt-in to use biometrics, but still allowing them to utilise the identification facility.

School attendance systems offer a quick and easy solution that give schools the important security information they need in the case of an emergency. It’s all about safety in the end, and biometrics can enhance that in schools in other ways. Biometrics can also be used by staff to create strong and secure access control measures on site. For example, perhaps the science department’s stock room is locked and can only be entered by authorised personnel using a biometric fingerprint scan.

Importance of accurate attendance growing in primary and secondary education

For schools and parents alike, it has become more important over the last few years to have an accurate and reliable school attendance system. Parents face new fines and even jail time if their children fail to attend school. In the last few years the number of cases that have gone to court on the issue has risen dramatically – and that’s largely down to a concerted effort by the government to crackdown on truancy. Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders has said on the matter:

“Good attendance is absolutely critical to the education and future prospects of young people.”

As such, over 16,000 truancy cases went to court last year. That’s 3000 more than the previous year. The pressure for good school attendance is not only on parents and students, but schools are also feeling the heat from Ofsted. Attendance is heavily scrutinized by the education watchdog. A spokesperson for the Department for Education outlined the department’s serious approach towards poor attendance:

“Our evidence shows missing the equivalent of just one week a year from school can mean a child is a quarter less likely to achieve good GCSE grades, having a lasting effect on their life chances.”

Colleges and universities are prime for universal biometric solutions

In higher education too, good attendance solutions are vital. Colleges and universities are just as suited to utilising a biometric attendance system as secondary schools are. They work in much the same way. Students can register their attendance with the simple scan of their fingerprint.

What’s really interesting however, is all the other services and applications you can tie to the same central identity management system in these institutions. Catering for example, could use biometrics as a means of authorising a cashless system. A particularly helpful one for universities is linking biometrics to the library systemPrint & Copy management, the student union, locker management and even computer logon can all be managed using the same biometric. Biometrics are an excellent authentication method, that when used in a universal way like this, enhance security, while simultaneously being more convenient and easy to use than any alternative.

BioStore’s attendance solution provides real health and safety

BioStore aims to provide any educational institute with a school attendance system that truly enhances the health and safety of its students. First and foremost, BioStore provides secure ways to correctly keep track of all students on-site, whilst bringing a whole new suite of benefits that improve the school experience for students and staff alike.

Related links & news stories:

BBC: School truancies lead to rise in prosecution of parents

GOV.UK: School attendance and absence

Teaching Times: School Security – Beyond A Duty Of Care