Attendance improving - but still a problem at third of schools

Poor attendance is still a problem at nearly a third of secondary schools in Wales, according to a report published today by the education watchdog Estyn. It says absenteeism has improved over the last five years, but more needs to be done.

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Welsh Government: Attendance report is 'encouraging'

The Welsh Government has described Estyn's report into school attendance as "encouraging."

It says it has targeted attendance with increased investment, and including attendance within the banding system for rating secondary schools gives parents "a clear picture of how schools are performing."

Estyn's report makes encouraging reading.

In the last two years the Welsh Government has invested £800,000 to support local authorities and schools in securing long-term improvements in school attendance. The inclusion of attendance data in the All Wales Core Data Sets for schools and local authorities is a key source of information for schools to use in self-evaluation and improvement processes.

In addition, we have introduced school banding, helping to give us and parents a clear picture of how our schools are performing. Attendance forms part of the banding process which provides us with a constructive evaluation process to improve school performance.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

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Poor attendance a problem at third of secondary schools

Poor attendance is still a problem at nearly a third of secondary schools in Wales, according to a report published today by the education watchdog Estyn.

It says absenteeism has improved over the last five years, but more needs to be done.

The education watchdog says there is a direct link between attendance rates and attainment. Credit: PA

Key findings from Estyn's report include:

  • Pupils that are persistently absent now account for a quarter of all absence
  • Absence rates for pupils eligible for free school meals are nearly twice those of other pupils
  • Less than half of schools analyse well enough why pupils miss school

Among the watchdog's recommendations to schools are improving their use of attendance data, strengthening links with external groups that help support families, and engaging more with pupils.

Estyn also recommends local councils should provide schools with more training on attendance - and the Welsh Government should provide clarity on where responsibility for attendance lies between local authorities and regional consortia.

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