a group of school pupils waving hands in air
Pupils at Blaenavon Heritage VC Primary School Photo: Torfaen Council

A primary school in Torfaen has seen an increase in attendance following the introduction of new and engaging approach to Friday morning assemblies.

Blaenavon Heritage VC Primary School’s revamped assemblies now feature a digital attendance leaderboard, showcasing the classes with the highest attendance rate for the previous week. It has ignited some friendly competition among classes, with the top-performing junior class receiving a trophy and the winning infants class sporting the attendance teddy bear.

The school also introduced a rewards system for pupils to earn one point for each full week they attend school. These accumulated points are then exchanged for rewards at the school’s prize shop. It has been a real hit with the children, with some exchanging their points for a variety of rewards, including a street dance experience, rugby training session, stationery packs and stickers.

Since introducing this new format, the school has seen a year-on-year improvement in attendance rates, going from 87.56% in 21-22 to 89.49% in 22-23 and 92.58% currently.

Headteacher Anna Britten said: “As a school we noticed an increase in unplanned absences since returning after the pandemic, so we wanted to create an environment that encourages pupils to value their education and prioritise their attendance, and ensure every child feels valued, supported, and encouraged to reach their full potential”.

“We are thrilled to see the positive impact of our new Friday morning assembly format. By highlighting attendance and introducing a rewards-based system, we have created a fun and motivating environment that is encouraging the children to come to school regularly.”

In addition, the school has a range of well-being interventions in place to support pupils who may be struggling to attend school due to personal or social challenges. They include counselling, mentoring, and family support programmes. Pupils also get the chance to take part in community-based projects such as helping to tackle litter and fly-tipping in their local area.

They recently supported Torfaen Council’s litter and fly-tipping prevention officer Oliver James to illustrate the damage rubbish does to the environment by producing their own prevention posters.

Councillor Richard Clark, Torfaen Council Executive Member for Children, Families and Education, said: “Blaenavon Heritage VC Primary School has achieved remarkable results in boosting attendance rates by using digital technology and creative incentives. I commend the headteacher, staff, and pupils for their outstanding performance and commitment. The Council’s #NotInMissOut campaign supports this vision by showcasing the fun and varied activities that school offers, as well as the benefits of regular attendance.”