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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 20th April 2015

 

Report of the Director of Learning and Skills  

 

School Mid-Year Attendance Report

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide Members with information about school attendance.

Recommendation

To recognise the improved level of attendance in 2013/14 in the majority of schools in the Vale of Glamorgan and note the current level of school attendance from September - December 2014.

Reason for the Recommendation

To provide an opportunity for Members to keep school attendance under close review and to continue to inform future policy and practice.

 

Background

2.         This report is a mid-year report intended to provide early information regarding attendance improvement in advance of the end of academic year report.

3.         Previous reports to this Committee have set out details of the revised Attendance Policy and the operating model for the Callio approach.

4.         Official all Wales primary school attendance data is collected at the end of the academic year and reported in December when comparative data is available.

5.         Official all Wales secondary school attendance data is collected up to the end of May every year and reported in September when comparative data is available.

6.         This report uses first release attendance data reported and published via the Office of National Statistics for Wales for primary schools.

7.         In addition, interim attendance data generated by the Directorate's Data Unit has been used for the period from September to December 14.

8.         There may be minor adjustments to this interim data by the end of the academic year.

Relevant Issues and Options

9.         Since September 13, schools in the Vale have adopted the Callio model to ensure there is a whole school and Vale LA approach to improving attendance.  This approach supports schools in managing pupils with attendance above 92%.

10.      Secondary schools have accessed additional funding to improve the engagement of pupils with attendance between 80% and 92%, including pupils in Y6 in their feeder primary schools.

11.      The Education Welfare Service (EWS) works with pupils with attendance below 80% to improve the attendance of persistent absentees.  The EWS has been centralised to ensure that Education Welfare Officer (EWO) work is focused on those pupils who are persistently absent. It also ensures closer supervision of difficult cases and allows the service to regularly share expertise.

12.      The most recent available comparative data shows persistent absenteeism (under 80%) has reduced from 5.8% of secondary pupils in 2011/12 to 4.2% in 2013/14. Over this period the Vale's ranking improved from 8th to 6th.

13.      In 2013/14, Ceredigion had the lowest level with 2.6%. Blaenau Gwent had the highest with 7.7%.

14.      Over the autumn term, the EWS undertook register checks in 7 secondary schools. This checked that schools had good systems to react promptly to pupil absence and allowed the EWOs to advise school staff about managing attendance. It also identified pupils who would benefit from referral to the EWS.

15.      Over the last 3 years, Vale primary school attendance has improved. It has been consistently above the attendance for Wales and when compared with other LAs, the Vale has improved its ranked position.

Year

All Wales Primary  Attendance

Vale Primary Attendance

Vale Position

2011/12

93.8%

94.5%

6

2012/13

93.7%

94.2%

6

2013/14

94.8%

95.3%

4

 

16.      The 2013/14 benchmark positions for primary schools have recently been released. 28 of Vale primary schools were in the upper quarters; 20 schools were in the lower quarters.

17.      When compared with the previous year, 13 schools improved their benchmark positions, including Colcot who moved from the 4th to the 1st quarter.

18.      Primary Benchmark Positions 13/14

Benchmark Position

Number of Schools

Quarter 1

8

Quarter 2

20

Quarter 3

11

Quarter 4

9

 

 

19.      The following schools were in the top benchmark quarter for 2013/14: Colcot; Cadoxton; Murch; Eagleswell; Evenlode; Nant Talwg;  Pendoylan; St David's

20.      Of the 48 primary schools, 13 improved their benchmark position in comparison with the previous year and 20 maintained the same position. 15 schools had a lower benchmark position in 2013/14 when compared with the previous year.

21.      The following schools have remained in the lowest quarter over the last 2 years: Albert; Gwenfo; St. Nicholas.

22.      Unverified data from the autumn term shows that attendance has improved by 0.7% in Gwenfo, is the same in Albert and is 0.4% lower in St. Nicholas when compared with the attendance of the previous autumn term (2013).

23.      Unverified data shows that, in the primary sector, 19 schools have improved their attendance in the autumn term 14/15 compared with the same term in 13/14. 3 schools have the same attendance and 26 schools have not performed as well as the previous autumn term.

24.      All schools set ambitious attendance targets for the year. Unverified attendance data for the autumn term 2014 shows that 25 primary schools are performing as well as or better than their target.

25.      Attendance of Vale secondary schools has been consistently above the All Wales figure for the last 3 years

Year

All Wales

Secondary Attendance

Vale Secondary

Attendance

Vale Position

2011/12

92.2%

92.7%

7

2012/13

92.6%

93.3%

4

2013/14

93.6%

94.2%

4

 

26.      The 2013/14 benchmark positions for secondary schools places 5 of the Vale's schools in the upper quarter and 3 in the lowest.

27.      When compared with the previous year, 3 secondary schools improved their benchmark positions including St. Cyres who moved from the 4th to the 1st quarter and Llantwit Major who moved from the 3rd to the 1st quarter.

28.      Secondary schools in the lowest quarter for attendance last year have been visited by the Lead for Behaviour and Attendance and the Senior Education Welfare Officer. Discussions with staff in Barry Comprehensive, Bryn Hafren and Bro Morgannwg have considered school systems and how the EWS can further support the work of the school in raising attendance.  As a consequence action plans have been established to improve attendance.

29.      Unverified data for the autumn term shows the following secondary schools are improving attendance when compared with last year's autumn term: Barry Comprehensive by 1.3%; Bro Morgannwg by 0.3%; Cowbridge by 0.2%; Llantwit Major by 0.1%; Stanwell 0.6%.  The following schools have lower attendance this autumn compared with the previous autumn term: Bryn Hafren by 1.3%; St. Cyres by 0.7% and St Richard Gwyn by 0.1%.  

30.      Unverified data shows that, in the secondary sector, 5 schools have improved their attendance this autumn term when compared with the previous autumn and 3 schools have lower attendance.

31.      All secondary schools set ambitious targets for the year. Unverified attendance data for the autumn term 2014 shows that 3 schools, Barry Comprehensive, Cowbridge and Stanwell are performing as well or better than their target.

32.      In order to achieve the target, Bryn Hafren needs to make the largest improvement this year (1.3%). St. Richard Gwyn needs to improve attendance by only 0.1% to achieve their target. St. Cyres needs to improve by 0.2% and both Llantwit Major and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg need to improve by 0.5% over the next 2 terms.

33.      Fixed Penalty Notices are being introduced in the Vale.  This offers headteachers an opportunity to ensure that parents are aware of the importance of good attendance and the possible consequences for them if children do not attend school regularly. Governing Bodies have been involved in discussions about the Code of Conduct.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

34.      Callio central funding has been made available and is due to cease at the end of the academic year. £70 000 has been allocated during 2014/15 for secondary schools to improve the attendance of their pupils and those in Y6 in their feeder schools.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

35.      None in this report

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

36.      Under the Education Act 1996 children of compulsory school age should attend school from the start of the first term commencing after their fifth birthday.  A young person ceases to be of compulsory school age on the last Friday in June of the school year in which they have their 16th birthday. 

37.      It is an offence for a parent of a child of compulsory school age that is registered at a school to fail to ensure that their child regularly attends their school.  Failure to do so ensure creates an absolute offence.  An amendment to the Education Act 1996 means that since March 2001 it has been an aggravated offence where a parent of a child of compulsory school age who knowing that their child is failing to attend regularly at school, fails without reasonable justification to cause their child to attend.

38.      Under the Education (Pupil Registration) Wales Regulations 2010 the school is required to take an attendance register twice each day, at the start of the morning session and once at the start of the afternoon session.  In the event of any action in respect of non-school attendance, it is the register that is the basis of the evidence relied upon.

39.      Under section 437 of the Education Act 1996 Local Authorities have a duty to ensure that a child for whom they are responsible is receiving a suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. 

40.      The Education (Pupil Registration) Wales Regulations 2010 gives schools discretionary power to grant leave for the purpose of an annual family holiday during term time.  There is no automatic right to withdraw pupils from school for a holiday and in law parents have to apply for permission in advance.  Such permission is usually granted in accordance with arrangements made by the governing body of the school.  The Regulations state that only in exceptional circumstances may the amount of leave granted exceed (in total) more than 10 school days in any twelve week period.

41.      The Education (Penalty Notices) (Wales) Regulations 2013 requires that all LAs develop a Code of Conduct that defines the criteria for the issuing of a Fixed Penalty Notice. The regulations empower headteachers to issue penalty notices to parents.

42.      The following legislation, guidelines and documents underpin this policy:

  • Education Act 1996
  • Children Act 1989
  • Children Act 2004
  • The National Model for School Improvement
  • Behaving and Attending: Action Plan Responding to the National Behaviour and
  • Attendance Review, WAG (2009)
  • Inclusion and Pupil Support, WAG Circular 47/2006
  • Improving Attendance 2006, Estyn
  • The Education (Penalty Notices) (Wales) Regulations 2013.

Crime and Disorder Implications

43.      Children and young people who attend school regularly are less likely to become engaged in any unlawful actively.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

44.      Every child has a right to attend school regularly. This report is fully compliant with the United Nations Rights of the Child.

Corporate/Service Objectives

45.      The need to secure high levels of school attendance underpins many of the Council's school performance and improvement objectives.

Policy Framework and Budget

46.      The recommendations of this report are within existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

47.      Residents and headteachers have been consulted on the introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices. Most Governing Bodies have adopted the Code of Conduct and the updated Vale Attendance Policy.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

48.      Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

The Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010

National Model for School Improvement

United Nations Rights of the Child

Callio Attendance Strategy

Behaving and Attending: Action Plan Responding to the National Behaviour and

Attendance Review, WAG (2009)

The Education (Penalty Notices) (Wales) Regulations 2013

Vale of Glamorgan Revised Attendance Policy April 2014

Vale Code of Conduct - Fixed Penalty Notice for Non-Attendance at School Aug 2014

 

Contact Officer

Mike Glavin, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

 

Officers Consulted

David Davies, Lead Officer for Inclusion

Nicky Sturgess, Lead Officer for Attendance and Behaviour

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Director of Learning and Skills

 

 

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