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Success starts with excellent school attendance

Bridgend County Borough Council is reminding local parents and guardians about the importance of excellent school attendance following the publication of the latest statistics.

Between 2015-16 and 2017-18, the average attendance at local primary schools fell slightly from 95.3 per cent to 94.9 per cent, but remains above the all-Wales average of 94.6 per cent.

Of the 48 primary schools in Bridgend County Borough, 27 reported attendance rates above the all-Wales average.

In secondary schools, attendance rates have fallen by 0.5 per cent over the last three years, but the current attendance rate of 93.9 per cent is equal to the all-Wales average. Of the nine local secondary schools, six have attendance rates that are outperforming the all-Wales percentage.

A 95 per cent attendance target has been set for both primary and secondary schools by the Welsh Government and the Central South Consortium.

Regular attendance remains a priority for us as it is a crucial ingredient for ensuring success at school. Although our attendance rates have dropped, the change is very minimal. We’re pleased that our stats still measure up favourably when compared to the all-Wales picture, but would like to reiterate the importance of school attendance and punctuality.

There is a clear link between high levels of attendance and good educational achievement. Excellent school attendance also enables a young person to maintain positive friendships, improves their wellbeing and gives them a good grounding for their future.

Children who miss school for unauthorised reasons often miss critical parts of the curriculum which can then increase their risk of falling behind. Punctuality is also important. If a child continually arrives at school five minutes late, this will amount to them losing three days of school each year!

Bridgend County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration

Statistics are also reported for the number of pupils who are classed as being ‘persistent absentees’ because they have an attendance record of less than 80 per cent.
In Bridgend County Borough primary schools, 1.4 per cent of pupils are considered persistent absentees, which means that the local figure is lower than the all-Wales average (1.7 per cent) for the fifth year in a row. Persistent absenteeism is also lower in local secondary schools at 3.9 per cent compared to the all-Wales average of 4.1 per cent.

Since 2014, schools have had the power to impose fixed penalty notices on parents whose children are persistently absent. But the focus is on early prevention, and working with families to improve attendance, as Councillor Smith explains: “Our long term strategy to improve school attendance centres on early intervention and prevention. A lot of work is carried out by our education welfare officers and other family support staff to assist schools in identifying children who are demonstrating signs of poor attendance, address any welfare needs, and help them to tackle any obstacles which are causing their poor attendance.”

Councillor Smith added: “I think it’s really important to reward excellent attendance, so I’m always really pleased to see schools handing out awards to their pupils and classes that have achieved the best attendance rates. Such awards are presented in an inclusive way, to motivate rather than discourage pupils who need to improve their own attendance.

“I’d like to thank teachers for their focus on attendance, and also parents for being so supportive, and of course every pupil for appreciating the importance of regular school attendance.”

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