National effort needed to increase school attendance in Wales
A national effort is needed to support the 1 in 5 children who are regularly missing school, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles has said today.
New draft guidance, titled ‘Belonging, engaging and participating’, has been published for consultation.
The guidance aims to assist schools, pupil referral units, and local authorities in their efforts to improve school attendance.
Before the pandemic, school attendance was gradually improving.
However, the overall attendance figures have significantly dropped since the outbreak of COVID-19.
In the 2018/19 school year, overall absenteeism figures stood at 5.7%.
Provisional data for the 2022/23 school year to date shows this has risen to 10.5%.
Persistent absence among pupils eligible for Free School Meals has more than doubled from 8.4% of pupils in 2018/19 to 18.8% of pupils in 2022/23 to date.
The consultation seeks views on the current definition of ‘persistent’ absence, which is currently defined as more than 20%.
This measure often triggers certain interventions, such as the involvement of the Education Welfare Service.
The consultation will review whether lowering the threshold for intervention would better support families.
In the last year, several measures have been taken, including a £6.5 million investment for the 2023-24 financial year for more Family Engagement Officers.
These officers will establish positive relationships with families and provide clear guidance and information on good attendance.
An additional £2.5 million for the 2023-24 financial year will enable Education Welfare Officers to provide earlier support before issues escalate.
Minister Jeremy Miles said, “Attendance figures have not recovered since the pandemic in a way we would have hoped – it needs a national effort to tackle the ongoing attendance issue.” He emphasised the well-established link between attendance, attainment and wellbeing, and urged families, schools and relevant parties to help shape the new guidance.
The Minister’s call for a national effort to improve school attendance underscores the importance of education in the recovery from the pandemic and the future prospects of the nation’s children.
The consultation will run until July 20th and can be found here Belonging, engaging and participating | GOV.WALES Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com