Attendance in Wales' primary schools is improving but still lags behind the rest of the UK, according to a new report by education watchdog Estyn.
The report suggests that the key to tackling poor attendance is to adopt a variety of strategies, such as having a clear attendance policy and engaging well with pupils and parents, rather than focusing on one particular approach.
Inspectors found that schools with consistently good or improved attendance:
- Created a welcoming environment for pupils
- Had a clear attendance policy
- Engaged well with pupils and parents
- Analysed and monitored data about absence and the reasons for it
- Evaluated the impact of attendance strategies
- Developed strong links with community support services
- Had specified staff responsible for improving attendance
- Used appropriate rewards and incentives
- Involved school leaders and governors in evaluating attendance strategies
"Although there has been an improvement in attendance rates over the last year, pupils in Welsh primary schools still miss more school than those in the rest of the UK. Effective school leaders understand the importance of attendance to pupils' life chances. I am confident that the strategies outlined in the report will help schools to improve pupils' attendance and continue the upward trend in attendance rates."
The report recommends that schools implement all the strategies identified to make sure that pupils across Wales attend school regularly.
The Welsh Government says it welcomes the report and recognises that work still needs to be done.
“We take this issue extremely seriously as evidence shows that attendance impacts on learner attainment and is key to raising standards across the board. We would encourage schools, local authorities and consortia to study the report and consider how they can use this best practice to continue to improve attendance. In line with the recommendation of the report , we will work to further raise awareness of our current guidance on attendance within schools, local authorities and regional consortia.”
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, has lent his support to a new awards scheme aimed at helping youngsters with skills like communication and teamwork.
SkillForce has launched the Junior Prince's Award, for 9 to 11-year-olds, to help them transition from primary to secondary school.
Some of the first pupils to complete the course are from Caldicot School, and Castle Park Primary School.
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Parents in Rhondda Cynon Taf have lost their latest legal challenge against the council's plan to remove full-time nursery education for three-year-old children.
Campaigners' application for a judicial review over the council's decision was dismissed by a High Court judge.
From September, nursery education for three-year-olds will be cut to part-time, up to 15 hours per week - before full-time provision begins at age four.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council says the changes will save £2.16m per year.
Its plans to cut nursery provision have been hugely controversial over the last 18 months. Last May, parents won a previous legal battle, with the council judged to have acted unlawfully in its decision-making process.
The council re-introduced its plans earlier this year and, this afternoon, Mrs Justice Patterson ruled it had carried out a fair consultation exercise on this occasion.
Parents now say they will discuss whether to appeal the decision.