Posted inUncategorized

1,878 pupils ‘persistently absent’ from school in Torfaen and miss at least one day a week from class

Torfaen councillors are meeting to discuss how to improve attendance among ‘persistently absent’ pupils from schools in the borough.

Members of the council’s education and scrutiny committee are meeting tomorrow morning (23 Nov 22) to review a report into the latest data and give comments on steps being taken to improve the situation.

The report says that ‘low attendance and persistent absenteeism’ is defined as missing more than 20 per cent of lessons over a school year.

Councillors will be told that the Welsh Government is updating its policy on attendance and once published it will give clear guidance for all schools and councils in Wales. The report says: “The Minister for Education and Welsh Language has made it clear that the use of Fixed Penalty Notices is acceptable in exceptional circumstances.”

2021/22 was the first full year since the start of the pandemic that schools remained fully open but ‘attendance at schools continued to be affected.’

Data from October 2022

In October 2022 there were 764 primary pupils and 1,114 secondary pupils classed as ‘persistently absent’.

Torfaen’s attendance strategy

Over the next six months, the council’s attendance strategy will be reviewed and ready to be launched in April 2023. The report says that it’s expected that a key part of the strategy will be a joint approach between schools and the council. It says the revised guidance will ‘likely’ support schools to carry out self-evaluation, analyse data and use fixed penalty notices.

Education Welfare Service

Torfaen’s education welfare service (EWS) team is 6.2 full-time equivalent staff, meaning there are seven members of the team working in schools. They support schools, pupils, and their parents and carers who need support to improve their attendance.

#NotInMissOut campaign

The council has launched a campaign, in partnership with schools, to raise expectations linked to attendance. Councilors on the scrutiny committee will be asked to give their support to the campaign. Leaflets, banners and social media are being used.

Councillor Richard Clark, executive member for education, said: “The coronavirus pandemic was a difficult time for everyone, but thankfully the pandemic is over and schools have returned to normal.

“Children who regularly take time off – or go on holiday during the term time – risk falling behind in lessons. They also miss out on the chance to benefit from the vast array of resources and experiences schools have to offer.

“Such as learning to play different sports or musical instruments; access to science equipment; performing on a stage; taking on roles within the school that can help with university or job applications; careers advice, or just spending time with friends.

“There is support available to children and families who struggle to attend school  regularly, but action can be taken if pupils do not attend school.”

The target attendance rate for primary and secondary schools in Torfaen is 95 per cent.

Pupils who take off an average of half a day off a week will have an attendance rate of 90 per cent. Those who take off an average of one day off a week will have an attendance rate of 80 per cent.

Allowing children to take time off for reasons other than illness could be classed as unauthorised absences and may result in a fixed penalty notice.

To report your child as ill, or to arrange an authorised absence, parents should contact their child’s school as soon as possible.

Parents who have difficulty getting their children to school, or think there may be a reason why they don’t want to go to school, should speak to their child’s class teacher, head of year or headteacher for help and support.

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Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

Posted inNews

1,878 pupils ‘persistently absent’ from school in Torfaen and miss at least one day a week from class

an empty classroom