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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 7th December 2015

 

Report of the Director of Learning and Skills

 

School Attendance

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide Members with information about school attendance and the impact of the revised Attendance Policy and Code of Conduct for Fixed Penalty Notices for Non-Attendance at School.

Recommendation

  1. To note the performance in school attendance to July 2015.

Reason for the Recommendation

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

Background

  1. This report is intended to provide information about improvement in secondary attendance and provide early information about primary attendance in advance of the end of academic year report.
  2. Previous reports to this Committee have set out details of the revised Attendance Policy, the operating model for the Callio approach and the Code of Conduct for Fixed Penalty Notices for Non-Attendance at School.
  3. Official all Wales secondary school attendance is collected up to the end of May every year and reported in September when comparative data is available.
  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. This report uses First Release attendance data and the All Wales Core Data sets reported and published by Welsh Government.
  6. Interim attendance data generated by the Directorate's Data Unit has been used for primary attendance September 2014 to July 2015. There may be minor adjustments to this interim data by the end of the academic year.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Since September 2013, schools in the Vale have adopted the Callio model to ensure there is a whole school and Vale LA approach to improving attendance. Callio supports schools in managing pupils with attendance above 92%.
  2. 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 schools. This funding was used to provide additional administrative support to monitor attendance more closely and follow the Callio approach in 5 schools: Barry Comprehensive; Bryn Hafren; St. Cyres, St. Richard Gwyn and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg. Funding was also used to provide additional pastoral support in 6 schools: Bryn Hafren; Cowbridge; Llantwit; St. Cyres; Stanwell and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg.
  3. Practice has been affected by the Callio model and the need for good attendance has been highlighted to pupils and parents. Targeted secondary schools have reacted positively to support and challenge meetings from SIIS staff and this has led to improved communication between schools and the centralised EWS. The introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices has offered schools a further option when considering how to improve pupils' attendance. Schools have identified processes and procedures in managing attendance that have impacted positively and are sustainable once funding ceases. SIIS will continue to work with colleagues in the CSC to ensure that good practice and resources are shared and made available to our schools.
  4. Vale secondary school attendance has improved over the last 4 years. There was a further increase of 0.5% in attendance last year that resulted in the Vale being ranked first in Wales.

Year

All Wales Secondary Attendance

Vale Secondary Attendance

Vale Position

2011/2012

92.2%

92.7%

7

2012/2013

92.6%

93.3%

4

2013/2014

93.6%

94.2%

4

2014/2015

93.9%

94.7%

1

       
 

                  Secondary Attendance

 

12/13

13/14

14/15

Vale of Glamorgan

93.4%

94.2%

94.7%

Wales

92.6%

93.6%

93.9%

Solihull

94.1%

94.9%

Not available

Norfolk

93.4%

94.3%

         "

East Sussex

93.4%

94.3%

         "

       
  1. Vale primary school attendance has not improved consistently over recent years. Unverified data shows that primary attendance in in 2014/15 remained at 95.3%. This is likely to affect detrimentally the Vale's ranking in Wales.

Year

All Wales Primary Attendance

Vale Primary Attendance

Vale Position

2011/2012

93.8%

94.5%

5

2012/2013

93.7%

94.2%

5

2013/2014

94.8%

95.3%

4

2014/2015

 

95.3%

 
       
 

                    Primary Attendance

 

12/13

13/14

14/15 (unverified)

Vale of Glamorgan

94.2%

95.3%

95.3%

Wales

93.7%

94.8%

Not available

Solihull

95.5%

96.4%

          "

Norfolk

95.0%

95.9%

          "

East Sussex

94.9%

95.8%

          "

       
  1. Unverified primary attendance data shows that 31 schools improved attendance between 2013/14 and 2014/15, 15 schools' attendance decreased and 2 schools remained the same.

Increased attendance 2013/14 - 2014/15

Albert (95.2%); Barry Island (95.3%); Cogan (95.4%); Dinas Powys Infants (95.9%); Fairfield (95.5%); Gwenfo (95.6%); Llancarfan (95.6%); Llandough (96.3%); Llangan (96.1%); Llanilltud Fawr (95.6%); Murch (96.6%); Oak Field (93.6%); Palmerston (94.2%); Rhws (95.2%); St.  Andrew's (96.4%); St. Athan (95.7%); St.  Bride's (96.3%); St. Helen's Infants (96.3%); St. Helen's Junior (96.1%); St.  Illtyd's (95.5%); St. Joseph's (96.3%); St.  Nicholas (94.4%); Victoria (96.5%); Wick & Marcross (94.9%); Y Bont Faen (95.8%); Dewi Sant (96.4%); Nant Talwg (96.8%); Gwaun y Nant (95.3%); Iolo Morgannwg (96.6%); Pen y Garth (96.3%); Sant Baruc (95.9%)

Same attendance 2013/14 - 2014/15

High Street (93.8%); Holton (94.1%)

Decreased attendance 2013/14 - 2014/15

All Saints (96.0%); Cadoxton (94.1%); Colcot (93.7%); Eagleswell (95.1%); Evenlode (96.1%); Gladstone (93.0%); Jenner (92.8%); Llanfair (96.3%); Llansannor (95.0%); Pendoylan (96.4%); Peterston (96.1%); Romilly (94.6%); St.  David's (96.5%); Sully (95.7%); Sant Curig (95.0%)

   
  1. The Education Welfare Service (EWS) was centralised in January 2014. This enabled the Education Welfare Officers to increase their focus on pupils with attendance below 80% to reduce the number of persistent absentees.
  2. 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 in Wales improved from 8th to 6th. By 2014/15 persistent absenteeism in Vale secondary schools had reduced further to 3.3%. All secondary schools reduced persistent absenteeism with the exception of Llantwit whose rate remained at 1.4%. This was the lowest in the secondary school. Bryn Hafren had the highest rate at 8.0%.
  3. Persistent absence in primary schools reduced by 0.6% to 1.1% between 2012/13 and 2013/14. The Vale was ranked 4th during both of these years. The rate of persistent absence for 2014/15 will be available in December 2015.

 

% of pupils who are persistent absentees

2012/13

% of pupils who are persistent absentees

2013/14

Vale Primary Schools

1.7

1.1

     
  1. During 2014/15, the EWS undertook Register Audits in all maintained secondary schools and Y Daith (PRU). They were also undertaken in primary schools with concerning levels of attendance. There were 14 primary schools last year. These were: Albert, Colcot, Evenlode, Eagleswell, Fairfield, Gwenfo, Jenner, Llancarfan, Llanfair, Llangan, Llansannor, Oak Field, St. Nicholas and Wick. The EWS checked that schools were coding attendance appropriately and recommended actions to improve practice that should impact positively on attendance. These audits were reviewed 6 months later to ensure the school had carried out the recommendations and to consider the impact on attendance.
  2. Since September 2015, the Education Welfare Service has undertaken a further 3 Register Audits in Llansannor, Gladstone and Iolo Morganwg.
  3. If concerns remained following the review of the Attendance Audit, the Senior Education Welfare Officer worked with the headteacher to draw up an Action Plan to improve attendance. This was also reviewed after 6 months. During 2014/15, Action Plans were drawn up for Albert, Colcot and St. Nicholas primary schools. They will be reviewed by December 2015.
  4. The 2014/15 secondary benchmark positions for secondary schools place 6 of the Vale secondary schools in the upper categories. 5 schools were in the top benchmark group: Barry Comprehensive; Cowbridge; Llantwit Major; St. Cyres and Stanwell. St. Richard Gwyn was placed in the 2nd group. In the lower categories were Ysgol Bro Morgannwg in group 3 and Bryn Hafren in group 4.

 

BENCHMARK

School

11

12

13

14

15

BARRY COMP

1

3

3

4

1

BRYN HAFREN

2

3

2

4

4

COWBRIDGE

4

1

1

1

1

LLANTWIT MAJOR

4

4

3

1

1

ST. CYRES

4

4

4

1

1

ST. RICHARD GWYN

3

1

1

2

2

STANWELL

3

1

2

1

1

YSGOL GYFUN BRO MORGANNWG

1

2

3

4

3

           
  1. Barry Comprehensive improved the most, moving from the lowest to the highest group. Bryn Hafren remained in the lowest group for the second year.
  2. During 2014/15, the School Improvement and Inclusion Service (SIIS) undertook support and challenge meetings in Barry Comprehensive, Bryn Hafren and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg. This ensured that systems were in place in the school to routinely monitor attendance, follow Callio procedures and ensure pupils and families were referred appropriately to the EWS or other support agencies.
  3. Bryn Hafren's attendance remained a concern so during the summer term 2015, the SIIS worked with Bryn Hafren staff on a project to improve school attendance. This included allocating additional EWO time. This project is due to be reviewed in December 2015. Early indicators show that Bryn Hafren's attendance is improving.
  4. The benchmark groups for primary schools for 2014/15 are due to be released in December. In 2013/14, 28 primary schools were in the upper groups; 20 were in the lower groups.

Benchmark Position 2013/14

Number of Primary Schools

Quarter 1

                          8

Quarter 2

                                20

Quarter 3

                                11

Quarter 4

                                9

   
  1. This year, schools' attendance targets have been set to try to ensure that schools will be placed in the upper benchmark groups. Schools' performance against their target will be monitored throughout the year. Underperforming schools will be identified for Attendance Audits by the EWS.
  2. In order to achieve their attendance targets this year Barry Comprehensive, Cowbridge Llantwit, St. Richard Gwyn and Stanwell need to improve attendance by 0.1%. St. Cyres aims to maintain the current attendance rate. Bryn Hafren needs to improve by 1.0% and Bro Morgannwg need to improve by 0.5%.
  3. The following primary schools will need to improve performance by 1.0% or more in order to achieve next year's attendance target: Gladstone, Jenner Park, Llansannor, St. Nicholas and Wick and Marcross.
  4. In order to increase primary attendance, the EWS will focus on schools in the lowest benchmarking group. Attendance Audits to improve attendance will be developed with headteachers and school staff. These will be reviewed after 6 months to ensure they are having a positive impact on raising attendance. If schools fail to make sufficient progress after this time, the SEWO will work with the headteacher and school staff to draw up an Action Plan to improve attendance. This will be reviewed after 6 months.
  5. When Estyn makes a recommendation in relation to attendance, the EWS will check whether an Attendance Audit has been completed. If there has been no Attendance Audit, the EWS will carry out this work. If an Attendance Audit has been undertaken within the previous 6 months, it will be promptly reviewed to ensure that recommendations have been followed. If attendance fails to improve, the SEWO will work with the school to develop an Action Plan to improve attendance.
  6. The revised Attendance Policy emphasises the importance of the decision of the headteacher to withhold authorisation for absence until they have clarified circumstances to their satisfaction: holidays in term time are not normally to be authorised. The withholding of authorisation is critical in determining the local authority's approach to a pupil's attendance. If the headteacher approves the absence, the EWS cannot prosecute the parents.
  7. Levels of unauthorised absence increased in both sectors by 0.2% in 2014/15 when compared with the previous year to 1.2% in secondary and 0.9% in primary schools. In 2013/14, the EWS successfully prosecuted 32 parents. By 2014/15, this had increased to 52 prosecutions.
  8. In 2014/15 there were 20 FPNs requested although none proceeded to the issuing of a FPN. Since September 2015, there have already been 18 requests received. 3 FPNs have already been issued and more are pending following a monitoring period.
  9. FPNs have been requested by Barry Comprehensive, Llantwit and Y Daith (PRU).
  10. The Code of Conduct for Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for Non-Attendance at School stipulates that one reason a FPN can be requested is if there are at least 10 unauthorised absences in a term. Most FPNs have been requested for this reason.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Callio central funding has been made available and is due to cease in April 2016. £70 000 has been allocated during 2014/15 and 2015/16 for secondary schools to improve the attendance of their pupils and those in Y6 in their feeder schools.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no Sustainability and Climate Change implications arising from this report

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. 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. 
  2. 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 do so.
  3. 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 during each 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.
  4. Under Section 437 of the Education Act 1996 Local Authorities may serve a notice requiring the parent to confirm that a child for whom they are responsible is receiving a suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. 
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

  1. 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)

  1. 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

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

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. 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

  1. 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

Ruth Ferrier, Acting 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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