Neath Port Talbot Council Launches Campaign to Tackle School Absences
Neath Port Talbot Council have come up with a plan it says could help prevent pupils skipping class in the future, following what was outlined as an increase in school absences this year.
The local authority has launched a campaign named the ‘Miss School, Miss Out’ designed to highlight the importance of school attendance, as well as how it can help children and young people get the best possible start in life.
It comes after announcements earlier this year that showed attendance had dropped across the borough at both primary and secondary levels, according to a report heard by the education scrutiny committee in July.
In the report, figures showed that school attendance at primary school level had fallen consistently over the last three years from 93.83% in 2020-21 to 91.18% in 2021-22 and further to 89.23% in 2022-23.
It also showed a similar trend in secondary schools, with attendance falling from 92.51% in 2020-21 to 87.88% in 2021-22 and further to 85.52% in 2022-23, representing an almost 7% drop in secondary school attendance across the borough since the start of the pandemic.
Members had previously noted the authority was having to play “catch up” as the number of pupils skipping class has increased, with hopes now being that the campaign can raise awareness around the benefits of good school attendance, as well as providing information on how families can prevent absences in the future.
The report also comes off the back of announcements that school exclusions across the borough are up, with the number of temporary and permanent exclusions having increased by almost 40% since 2019.
A council spokesperson said: “Regular attendance at primary and secondary schools plays a vital role in helping children develop essential life skills, social abilities, friendships, team values, and understanding potential career pathways.
“Research shows a direct link between high school attendance rates and higher academic achievement. In the 2022-23 academic year, 82% of pupils in Neath Port Talbot who maintained a 95% attendance rate or more achieved a ‘C’ grade or above in GCSE Maths and English.
“The council offers a dedicated Education Welfare Service to assist parents and guardians facing challenges with getting their children to attend school regularly. This service focuses on providing advice and support to parents of compulsory school-age children, aiming to promote consistent attendance and enhance the overall educational experience.
“Parents and guardians who have concerns over a child’s attendance should speak to the school in the first instance. Furthermore, the campaign emphasises the role of parents and guardians in preventing school absences. It encourages families to establish a consistent routine from an early age, explain the benefits of good attendance and punctuality, and engage actively in their child’s education by participating in school activities and discussing school work.”
Councillor Nia Jenkins of thr Allt-wen ward said: “The ‘Miss School, Miss Out’ campaign has been launched to coincide with when we start to see a drop in attendance rates during the school year.
“Regular attendance and punctuality are essential for children and young people to make the most out of their time at school. It’s not just about what they learn in the classroom, but the endless extracurricular activities that are available to help develop skills such as teamwork, creativity, and self-confidence.
“We understand that some pupils may face challenges, and we want to assure
families that help is available. If your child is struggling with school attendance,
please contact your school for help and advice in the first instance.”
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