Every Child Every Day: School Attendance Strategy 2014 – 2017

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RHONDDA CYNON TAF COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EDUCATIONAND LIFELONG LEARNING

IMPROVING SCHOOLATTENDANCE IN RHONDDA CYNON TAF

EVERY CHILD EVERY DAY

SCHOOL ATTENDANCE STRATEGY

2014 -2017

DECEMBER 2014


Contents

1.    Introduction                                                                                                                               P.3

Who is responsible forschool attendance?                                                                   P.4

What is the role ofschools?                                                                                              P.4

What is the role of theAttendance and Wellbeing Service?                                       P.6

What is the role of theYouth Engagement and Participation Service?                    P.7

What is the role of theCentral South Consortium Joint Education Service?                       P.8

2. Context                                                                                                                                         P.10

            Policy context                                                                                                                       P.10

            The research base                                                                                                               P.10

            Attendance rates in Rhondda CynonTaf                                                                                   P.11

3. Delivering the Strategy                                                                                                 P.13

4. Monitoring the Strategy                                                                                                           P.16

5. Conclusion                                                                                                                                  P.18


1.     INTRODUCTION

1.1        This strategy is founded on the ethos of the originalSchool Attendance Strategy 2011-13, with consideration for the developmentsthat have been made since its launch. This document sets out the currentsituation regarding school attendance levels in Rhondda Cynon Taf, togetherwith the steps the Council will take, in partnership with school governingbodies, head teachers, parents/carers, relevant agencies, local businesses andcommunity groups to improve school attendance rates over the next three years.

1.2        The2011-2013 strategy outlined the key areas for improvement, which, since beingimplemented have had a positive impact on school attendance in Rhondda CynonTaf.  The three key areas focused on overthe past two years have resulted in the attendance in primary and secondaryschools rising by 2.2% and 2.5% respectively. RCT is now ranked 17thin Walesfor secondary school attendance rates compared to 22nd in 2011. Suchmarked improvements evidence the effectiveness of the focusing on the three keyareas for improvement within a clear strategic approach.  

1.3        This strategy is intended to build upon theexisting framework for continuous improvement in school attendance andattainment in all educational establishments in Rhondda Cynon Taf, whilstaccounting for developments that are underway within the Central SouthConsortium and its remit in supporting improvements in attendance levels acrossthe wider region.

1.4        In addition, the introduction of the new YouthEngagement and Participation Service will further add to the range ofintervention available to secondary school aged pupils who are experiencingbarriers to learning and are at risk of disengaging from education. Thisintervention also continues after statutory schooling age, via the SEET Post 16Transitional Support Workers and partners who support young people up to theage of 25 to engage in education, employment and training opportunities.

1.5        Together, Rhondda Cynon Taf County BoroughCouncil and the Central South Consortium are committed to working with schoolsand wider partners to improve school attendance and punctuality across the fiveLocal Authorities. Underpinning this commitment is the collective understandingthat unless children and young people attend school regularly and punctually,they will not be able to take full advantage of the educational opportunitiesavailable to them and will not achieve their true potential. 

1.6        Building upon the foundations set by the 2011-2013strategy, it is essential that school attendance remains a shared priorityacross wider partners if we are to continue to support schools to improveattendance rates. Therefore, the vision for the coming three years is to continueto engage with a range of partners, both within the Local Authority and beyondto ensure this priority is reflected in their own plans and objectives.

1.7        Ensuring the wellbeing and safeguarding of allpupils requires cohesive local partnerships to achieve positive results for youngpeople, with the Consortium, Local Authority, Schools and partners beingfocused on providing the most appropriate opportunities for every young personto fulfil their potential.  The LocalAuthority must ensure that such opportunities are made available to all youngpeople through the effective deployment of services and continued and sustainedimprovements in attendance levels year on year.

1.8        The added focus of the Consortium on attendancematters will ensure that there is a collaborative approach across all fiveLocal Authorities, providing consistent and coherent communication to schools,pupils and parents/carers, regardless of their geographical location.

Who is responsible for school attendance?

1.9        The legal requirements for school attendance areset out in the Education Act 1996; Children Act 1989; Crime and Disorder Act1998; and Registration Regulations.

1.10     Undersection 7 of the Education Act 1996, parents have a legal dutyto ensure their children receive efficient full time education that is suitableto their children’s age, ability and aptitude, either by regular attendance atschool or otherwise. Where there is sufficient evidence that parents are notfulfilling this legal duty, court proceedings may be instituted under Section444 (1) and/or (1A) of the Education Act 1996.

1.11     TheEducation (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010, identify the duty schoolshave to ensure that clear and efficient registration processes and practicesare in place and that those practices are accessible to the Local Authority formonitoring purposes, when required. A school register is a legal document thatmay be required to be presented as court evidence in Local Authorityprosecutions for non-attendance. It isan offence for schools not to maintain accurate registers.

1.12     Undersection 437 of the Education Act 1996, the Local Authority has a duty to ensurethat a child for whom they are responsible is receiving a suitable educationeither by regular attendance at school or otherwise. Section 436A of the Educationand Inspections Act 2006 requires that Local Authorities must make arrangementsto enable them to establish (so far as it is possible to do so) the identities ofchildren residing in their area who are not receiving a ‘suitable education’.

1.13     It is the duty of the Local Authority to ensurethat parents and schools carry out their responsibilities and this duty isdevolved to the Attendance and Wellbeing Service.

1.14     Whilst the legal responsibilities for ensuringregistered pupils attend school regularly rests with schools and the LocalAuthority, the Welsh Assembly expects a strong Consortium approach todelivering improved and sustained levels of schools attendance within an agreedcollaborative framework.

What is the role of schools?

1.15     Schools have a statutory duty under section 175Education Act 2002 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Estyn’sCommon Inspection Framework places a high expectation on schools to continuallyimprove school attendance rates and support pupil wellbeing. There is a directlink between these expectations and the school’s legal responsibilities to haveeffective registration and coding practices in place in order to safeguardpupils. School systems for active, whole school monitoring of pupil absence in orderto challenge, support and promote regular school attendance also promote aculture of safety and pupil wellbeing throughout the school.

1.16     In addition to current national legislation andEstyn guidance, RCT has taken a number of actions to monitor registration andcoding compliance across schools. The findings of the Estyn monitoring visit inJuly 2014 identified that ‘The authority has taken robust steps to ensure thatall schools use attendance codes consistently and accurately. The authority isholding headteachers to account effectively through their internal auditprocesses, resulting in more accurate attendance data’.

1.17     These robust steps include the commissioning ofan external review of school practices (November 2013) and an internal auditinvestigation of school registration practices (July 2013). Recommendationsfrom this commissioned work resulted in a number of expectations on schools.These recommendations include, but are not limited to the following:

·        All secondary schools are to nominate a SeniorAttendance Lead with responsibility for the strategic management of attendancewithin the school.  Their role shouldinclude compliance management of registration practices, analysis of attendancedata both at whole school and cohort level to identify the areas forimprovement/action, and, act as the initial point of contact with the school’sGoverning Body and Local Authority for high level attendance matters;

·        Improve the quality of strategic decision making interms of improving attendance with more robust self evaluation and subsequentaction planning practices in place to drive the priority forward;

·        Strengthen the links with the Governing Body, ensuringinformation is effectively disseminated upon which strategic decisions can bemade.

1.18     School Improvement Plans should highlight attendanceas a priority, reflecting the commitment to reducing absence levels using awhole school approach across the wider school management structure.  The School Improvement Service will, throughimproved working practices with the Attendance and Wellbeing Service, be ableto take more informed challenges to schools that are not highlightingattendance as a priority, and monitor school progress to targets. Beingincluded in strategic plans will ensure that attendance maintains a high profilethat is overseen by senior school leaders.

1.19     To support the strategic objective of improvingattendance rates, all schools should have a whole school attendance policy inplace, which sets out how attendance is managed and what monitoring systems areutilised. This should be actively supported by every member of staff andendorsed and monitored by the governing body. The Attendance Policy should clearly outline individual staffresponsibilities be readily available to newly appointed staff and used as partof the induction process.

1.20     A pupil friendly version of the policy should bedeveloped in conjunction with pupils to ensure it is meaningful, fit forpurpose and understood by all individuals and their parents/carers to promotethe benefits of attending school regularly.

1.21     Schools should operate an efficient First Dayabsence procedure to ensure that parents/carers are aware when their child isnot in school and have a standardised system for initiating and maintainingcontact with parents/carers regarding matters of absence and punctuality.

1.22     Regular monitoring of attendance data across thewhole school, key stages, year groups and classes is essential for a school tounderstand attendance issues, as is the monitoring of the attendance ofparticular vulnerable groups (e.g. Looked After Children, children on the ChildProtection Register, excluded pupils, those with special educational needs,young offenders, young carers etc).  Onlyupon analysing the attendance information can a school determine where it needsto improve and, therefore, direct resources accordingly and inform servicechanges.  Schools are actively encouragedto provide appropriate intervention for all pupils and not rely on the limitedresources of the Council’s Attendance and Wellbeing Service to intervene once apupil has fallen below the 86% threshold for referral.

1.23     All schools should be able to provide data on:

·        Overalland persistent absence levels for all pupils, year groups and other significantcohorts;

·        Individualpupils’ attendance, unauthorised and authorised absence (by code), exclusions,lateness, and dual registration;

·        Schooland cohort level attendance data by code.

What is the role of the Attendance andWellbeing Service?

1.24     The Attendanceand Wellbeing Service (AWS) provides support to schools, pupils and parents/carersto ensure regular attendance and address problems relating to absenteeism. The Attendanceand Wellbeing Officers (AWO’s) liaise with other agencies and provide animportant link between home and school helping parents/carers and teachers towork in partnership in order that pupils benefit from the educationalopportunities available locally.

1.25     The principlerole of the AWS is to contribute to the Local Authority and schools’ drive forschool effectiveness by ensuring:

·        Attendance is integral to school systems andprocesses;

·        Mechanisms are in place to monitor the accuracy ofschools’ registration practices;

·        Schools are challenged on the use of registrationcodes, where applicable;

·        Accurate and complete attendance data is providedto the Consortium by agreed deadlines;

·        Challenging yet realistic annual attendance targetsare set in conjunction with System Leaders, schools and governing bodies;

·        All work is in partnership with schools, pupils,parents/carers and communities to provide appropriate educational entitlementand regular attendance;

·        Links are developed with a network of agenciesproviding education, health and social services to individuals with specificneeds.

1.26     This willbe achieved through:

·        promotingand supporting whole school attendance policies;

·        providingadvice on proven good practice;

·        workingtogether with school staff, pupils, parents/carers and relevant others onprogrammes designed to improve attendance level;

·        undertakingindividual work with pupils;

·        undertakingfamily centred work;

·        developinggroup work with pupils and parents/carers; and

·        initiatingstatutory proceedings on behalf of the LA.

1.27     The purpose of the AWS is to assist parents/carers, schools and thelocal authority to meet the duties placed on them byrelevant legislation.

1.28     The AWS is the enforcement agency within thelocal authority with the responsibility to undertake, if deemed appropriate,court action for persistent school absence. The prime responsibility forensuring regular attendance lies with the parents/carers and the implementationof legal proceedings to address issues of non-attendance are dealt with on anindividual basis.

1.29     The AWS is also responsible for the processingand monitoring the requests for child employment and performance licences.  The reason the responsibility rests with theservice is to ensure that any requests for absence during a child’s schoolcareer will not have a detrimental affect on his/her education.  In addition, the AWS is responsible forensuring that any employment of a young person below 16 years is in a safe andappropriate environment. Risk assessments will be conducted when an applicationis received from a new employer prior to the licence being granted.

1.30     In addition to the statutory duties of the AWS,the service forms part of the recently created Engagement and ParticipationService, operating closely alongside the Supporting engagement in EducationEmployment and Training (SEET) Team and the Youth Engagement and ParticipationService. The SEET Team adds capacity to support young people who have become disengagedfrom education by assisting them to reintegrate with learning or training afterleaving statutory education. Integrated working arrangements have resulted in aseamless service for Yr11 pupils known to the AWS and are leaving school arerequire ongoing support from Post 16 Transitional Support Workers.

What is the role of the Youth Engagement and Participation Service?

1.31     The Council has a statutory duty to provideyouth services for 11 – 25 year olds as prescribed in section 123 of the Learning and Skills Act (2000).  This Act is in force in Wales under the Youth Support Services Direction (Wales)2002 which directs local authorities in Wales to:

·        Provide youth support services;

·        Secure the provision of youth support service,or

·        Participate in the provision of youth supportservices, having regard to guidance issued by the National Assembly.

In RCT the above statutoryduties are the responsibility of Youth Engagement and Participation Servicewith provision subject to inspection by ESTYN under the inspection of Local AuthorityEducation Services for Children and Young People.

1.32     The YEP Service focuses on providing targeted supportand early intervention to reduce the numbers of young people aged 11-25 yearsentering other statutory services, becoming NEET and not securing positiveoutcomes. This support and intervention is provided in conjunction with a rangeof services as required.

1.33     In order to provide these services and support the prioritiesof the local authority, YEPS officers have a shared responsibility to promotegood school attendance, assisting young people to tackle their barriers tolearning and re-engage them with education when absence levels start to rise.

1.34     The YEP Service provide an early intervention responsefor Key Stage 4 pupils whose attendance rates are below 90%. This is the firststep in a graduated response to tackling absenteeism, resulting in improvedattendance rates and avoiding referral to the AWS and subsequent statutoryprocedures.

1.35     In conjunction with the Attendance and WellbeingOfficers and the Post 16 Transitional Support Workers, the Youth Engagement andParticipation Service officers will provide wrap around support for youngpeople during the school day, evening, weekends and holiday periods, ensuringsupport is available at the most vulnerable times in a young person’slife.  

What is the role of the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service?

1.36      TheCentral South Consortium Joint Education Service was established in 2012 withthe aim of developing regional working to:

·        Providebetter value for money through economies of scale and efficiencies, enablinggreater devolution of funding to schools.

·        Generatemore opportunities to share good practice between local authorities and breakdown silo-working;

·        Enablethe best leaders of education to influence and support schools across a widergeographical area;

·        Facilitateschools to support the improvement of other schools.

(Source:  ISOS Partnership, “School improvement consortia: an earlyassessment of their readiness to deliver”, November 2012)

1.37      The CSC school improvement strategy,Achieving Excellence Together, sets high levels of ambition and explains how itwill work with pupils, parents/carers, schools, Local Authorities and widerpartners to achieve the improvements which are needed if children and youngpeople are to succeed in the region.

1.38      Improving school attendance was identified asone of the key priority areas for the Consortium and whilst it is managed underthe auspice of ‘wellbeing’, tackling absenteeism is an action area in its ownright.

1.39      A strategic network group was established in2013, with representatives from each of the five Local Authorities’ EducationWelfare Services.  Grant funding from WelshGovernment has provided the Consortium with the opportunity to introduce aregional approach to improving school attendance.

1.40      A Consortium School Attendance Strategy hasbeen developed in collaboration with each Local Authority partner which setsout the commitment to improving school attendance by 2016, in line with thewider Consortium Strategy.  The documentoutlines the role of the School Improvement Service in raising schoolattendance levels, alongside schools and the Local Authorities.

1.41      The key principles of the Consortiumstrategy directly align with the existing identified key areas for improvementin Rhondda Cynon Taf, in order to challenge and facilitate continuousimprovements in school attendance rates over the coming years.

1.42      To achieve the Consortium strategy and aidthe success of this plan, the CSC will:

·        Ensurethat attendance is a standing item on school improvement meeting agendas;

·        Monitoreach school’s whole-school strategic approach;

·        Usecode level data to track attendance progress and challenge schools on theirlevels and code usage, where applicable:

·        Undertakean attendance audit by using the approved toolkit and ensure the outcomes areshared with the AWS;

·        Developthe expertise of school staff to meet the demands of raising school attendancetargets;

·        Facilitatethe sharing of good practice using the Portal as the means of disseminating theinformation.


2.     CONTEXT

What is the policy context?

2.1        The Welsh Government’s All Wales Attendance Framework provides standards and guidance for schoolsand Education Welfare Services to ensure they deliver services that areconsistent, accessible and of a high standard.

2.2        Complementing the framework, the Attendance CodingSystem ensures schools record the reason for school absence, allowing analysisto be conducted across various cohorts for use in determining trends andinforming service development. Whilst the introduction of these codes provedchallenging in certain areas, the information available as a result of codeanalysis is key to informing changes at operational levels for both schools andthe Local Authority, and in turn has informed this strategy.

2.3        The findings of the Council’s Estyn Inspectionof Education Services for Children and Young People in March 2012, identifiedthe improvement of attendance in schools as the second key recommendation forimprovement. Estyn’s Monitoring visit in July 2014 concluded that thisrecommendation had been met and that since the last inspection in 2012,attendance has improved in both primary and secondary schools.

2.4        Supplementing the Education Act1996 Section 444A, the Education (Penalty Notices)(Wales) Regulations 2013 givesLocal Authorities the power to issue fixed penalty notices for non attendance. Evidencesupports that this enforcement measure is a deterrent for parents, demonstratingimprovements in attendance levels following their introduction. Rhondda CynonTaf introduced Fixed Penalty Notice for specificcircumstances of unauthorised absence from September 2014, following a comprehensiveconsultation period with stakeholders.

The research base

2.5       The causesof poor school attendance are extremely complex (Reid, 2005) but research hasidentified a number of factors which correlate with low attendance. These arebroadly categorised by Reid as Social, psychological and institutional reasons(Reid, 2008). Research has shown that there is rarely only one reason for ayoung person not attending school, but a combination of several issues whichmay have stemmed from an initial cause.

2.6       There area number of family related factors that can play a significant role in poorschool attendance and educational disengagement. Poverty and social inequalityare identified as major factors in poor school attendance (Reid, 2005). Povertycan underline many other problems, providing extra barriers to attendance suchas inadequate housing and lack of basic necessities like food, clothing andtransport. Many children and young people will fell self-conscious anduncomfortable without proper school clothing and adequate personal hygiene, andchallenges by staff and poor peer relations/bullying can result.

2.7       There area number of internal family stressors that not only impact on but can createpractical barriers to attendance and engagement in learning. Factors leading toa stressful or disorganised home environment have been identified as prevalentin homes of truants and persistent absentees. These stressors include liveningin overcrowded conditions and poor quality housing; parental illness, alcoholor substance misuse; domestic violence and abuse; and social servicesinvolvement related to divorce, separation, violence and abuse (Reid, 2005;Egan 2007).

2.8       One factoroften identified as contributing to poor attendance is the lack of priority givento education by parents (Malcolm et al, 2003). In workless households anddeprived communities, low aspirations can become part of the culture andchildren and young people may never foster an appreciation of school. Lack ofparental time and support for learning can hinder the development of key skillsand lead to difficulties with learning, which in turn lowers self-confidenceand can result in absence. Research has found that parental involvement had abigger impact on outcomes for children – including their attendance – than thequality of what is offered at school (Reid, 2009; Egan, 2007; Egan, 2011).Second and third generation truants are of particular concern for professionalsworking with pupils with poor attendance (Reid, 2008). Dalziel and Henthorne(2005) found that parents who reported the poorest attendance for themselveswhen they were at school, had a greater proportion of children with poorerattendance.

2.9       In Wales, youngpeople who are NEET are likely to have a history of being absent from school,with a persistent truancy rate of 15.4% for the NEET group compared to 3.3% forthe cohort as a whole (Welsh Government, 2009). The significance of behaviouralvariables, such as attainment and attendance, is that they can be changed, andso by using them to identify those at risk of becoming NEET there is anopportunity to intervene and prevent it from actually happening.

Attendance rates in RhonddaCynon Taf

2.10     School attendance rates in RCT have beenconsistently poor. Despite increases in both primary and secondary schools overthe past three academic years, more still needs to be achieved.  Table 1 below sets out the school attendancepercentages for primary and secondary pupils in Rhondda Cynon Taf over the pastthree years compared to the Welsh Average and ranks our performance against theother 21 local authorities.

Attendance

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

Primary

RCT

92.3%

93.1%

93.4%

94.5%*

All Wales Average

93.3%

93.8%

93.7%

TBC

RCT ranking out of 22 LAs

22nd

18th

16th

TBC

Secondary

RCT

90.6%

90.6%

91.9%

93.1%

All Wales Average

91.4%

92.2%

92.6%

93.6%

RCT ranking out of 22 LAs

20th

21st

21st

17th

    Provisional figures

2.11The impactattendance has on the performance indicator Level 2 threshold (5 A*-C orequivalent) including English/Welsh and Maths (a measure which judges how manychildren have the key skills of literacy and numeracy and a good breadth ofknowledge)

2.12is stark. Achild in Rhondda Cynon Taf that has an attendance rate of greater or equal to94% is:

·        94% morelikely to achieve the threshold than a child who has an attendance of at most90% – the equivalent of missing one day a fortnight (compared to the Welshaverage of 53% more likely);

·        321% morelikely to achieve the threshold than a child who has an attendance of at most80% – the equivalent of missing one day a week (compared to the Welsh averageof 207% more likely);

·        1124% morelikely to achieve the threshold than a child who has an attendance of at most70% – the equivalent of missing three days a fortnight (compared to the Welshaverage of 592% more likely).

2.13Similarlyto two years ago, local research continues to indicate that the single biggestissue facing us in terms of poor school attendance is the culture of parents/carerscondoning pupil absence, which includes removing children from school forfamily holidays in term time. Whilst the Education (Pupil Registration)Regulations 2010 give schools discretionary power to authorise absence for thepurpose of family holidays, from September 2014 all schools in RCT have beenrequested not to authorise absence for holidays in term time following theCouncil’s Cabinet approval to adopt a whole authority approach as recommendedby Estyn. This has brought RCT in line with neighbouring Authorities such as Cardiff and Merthyr.

2.14Foracademic year 2013/14, a revised target setting process was implemented toensure the most appropriate target was applied to each school based upon theirindividual circumstances and needs. Local knowledge, previous performance, benchmarking groups andavailability for support for improvement were all key considerations in settingeach target, thereby allowing for the AWS to focus its efforts where mostneeded.  The figures were ratified bysenior managers and schools and systems leaders were consulted to ensure aequitable process and allow opportunity for challenge.  Official figures were provided to all schoolsduring the first half term of the year for maximum opportunity for success. Inthe most recent inspection in July 2014 Estyn identified this approach asresulting in the setting of appropriately challenging targets to improveattendance.

2.15There are many examples of good practice within ourschools; however the rigor with which schools apply systems to identify,address and monitor attendance levels at an individual and school levelcontinues to vary greatly across Rhondda Cynon Taf.  Much work has begun to standardise systemsacross the county borough, including common registration periods, the pilotingof shared paperwork and centrally coordinated initiatives such as Daily AbsenceResponse Teams and reward schemes. 


Dalziel, D. and Henthorne, K, (2005), Parents’/carers’ attitudes towards school attendance.Department for Education and Skills.

Egan,D., (2007), Combating Child Poverty in Wales: areeffective education strategies in place? Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Egan,D., (2011) Educational Equity and SchoolPerformance in Wales.University of Wales Institute: Cardiff

Malcolm,H; Wilson, V; Davidson, J and Kirk, S (2003), Absence from School: A study of its causes and effects in seven LEAs,The SCRE Centre, University of Glasgow.

Reid,K, (2005), The Implications of Every Child Matters and the Children Act for Schools, Journal for Pastoral Care and Personal-Social Education.

Reid,K, (2008), Educational Welfare Service:the case for a review in England,Educational Studies.

WelshGovernment (2009) Reducing the proportionof young people not in education, employment or training in Wales. Cardiff

3.     DELIVERINGTHE STRATEGY

3.1        Sincethe last Strategy was written a number of new plans and strategies have beenimplemented that must be considered in line with the School Attendance Strategyincluding the Single Integrated Plan, the RCT Supporting Engagement inEducation, Employment and Training (SEET) Strategy and the RCT Youth SupportServices Strategy.

3.2        Servicere-organisation within Education and Lifelong Learning Directorate has alignedthe work of the Attendance and Wellbeing Service with the SEETs Team and theYouth Engagement and Participation Service in the creation of the Engagementand Participation Service. This focuses resources to support children and youngpeople’s engagement in learning between the ages of 3-25 years with theCouncils priority to improve school attendance rates firmly underpinningpractice.

3.3        Whilstattendance rates have improved in both primary and secondary sectors, furtherimprovements need to be made and sustained in coming years. It is essentialthat the proven success of the 2011-2013 strategy remains the backbone of the2014-2017 School Attendance Strategy in order to continue to build upon thefoundations that have been established. 

3.4        It isprudent that the principle aims of both the local RCT and regional CSCattendance strategies complement each other. 

3.5         As such, the four key aims of RCT’s SchoolAttendance Strategy 2014-2017 are:

·        Improveparent, pupil and public awareness of school attendance issues by maintaining awhole authority approach to promoting and improving school attendance;

·        Coordinate a consistent approach to responding toabsenteeism and the provision of support services to prevent poor attendanceand support the re-engagement of pupils who do not attend school;

·        Ensure attendance data is used more effectively toidentify and address issues and monitor outcomes;

Improve parent, pupiland public awareness of school attendance issues by maintaining a wholeauthority approach to promoting and improving school attendance

3.6        Raisingthe awareness of school attendance is a critical action area in raisingattendance levels.  All activitiesundertaken by the Consortium, Local Authorities and schools must be visible toall key stakeholders. 

3.7        Aconsistent public message must be maintained that absence from school is asignificant factor in low educational attainment and a negative influence onsocial and emotional wellbeing.  

3.8        Keyaction areas include:

·        Consortium wide marketing campaigns acrossthe five LA’s;

·        Media support for celebrating success storiesand reporting on statutory interventions;

·        Establishing what is and sharing goodpractice across schools and authorities;

·        Coordinating Local Authority and school levelinitiatives;

·        Establishing links with wider communitypartners;

·        Exploring potential methods of measuring theeffectiveness of interventions.

Coordinate a consistent approach to responding to absenteeism and theprovision of support services to prevent poor attendance and support there-engagement of pupils who do not attend school.

3.9        Partnershipworking is key to the success of this strategy and therefore, securing thesupport of the School Improvement Service is essential in engaging schools toview the improvement in attendance rates as fundamental to improving attainment.

3.10     Thereasons for pupils disengaging from education varies greatly making it imperativefor schools and the Local Authority to identify at the earliest opportunity thesigns and indicators of an individual withdrawing from school in order torespond in the most appropriate way. A multi-agency approach is often best forthose with complex needs and challenging personal circumstances but more highprofile events and whole school preventative activities are generally moreinfluential when dealing with low level persistent absence.

3.11     Whilsta co-ordinated partnership approach is pivotal, it is important that a cleargraduated response is in place to tackle absenteeism that best utilises theskills and responsibilities of different stakeholders. A graduated responseoffers the opportunity of early intervention which in turn reduces the numberof referrals to statutory services. It also enables services to be moreresponsive to individual circumstances.

3.12     Improvingthe support for pupils at significant points between key stages will becritical to the long term success of this strategy and this includes thetransition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 as well as the transition to post 16education, employment and training opportunities as supported by the SEETs Teamand other partners.

3.13     Keyaction areas will include:

·        Continue to efficiently and consistentlydischarge the statutory duties of the AWSin relation to school attendance as set out by legislation

·        Developing stronger links with Health tosupport schools to appropriately challenge extended or frequent sickness absence;

·        Integrating challenge and support functionsof the AWS with the Consortium;

·        Building on the improvements to referralprocesses;

·        Developing stronger working links with ChallengeAdvisors within the Consortium;

·        Maintain working links with schools;

·        Sharing good practice.

Ensure attendancedata is used more effectively to identify and address issues and monitoroutcomes

3.14     Continuingto develop management information systems and standardising procedures willallow for the timely capture and analysis of data, which in turn will allow schoolsand the Attendance and Wellbeing Service to implement a more proactive approachto the prevention of and management of poor school attendance. 

3.15     Registrationcompliance checks enable to Attendance and Wellbeing Service to discharge theirstatutory duty to ensure schools are accurately recording pupil absence. Italso ensures that the attendance data used to effectively identify and addressissues is accurate to facilitate the monitoring of outcomes.

3.16     In order to provide appropriatechallenge and support to schools to improve their attendance levels, a robusttarget setting process has now been be established.  This revised process considers localknowledge of the school and community, whilst taking account of previous targetsand actual attendance figures.  Thisprocess will be reviewed throughout the life of this strategy to ensure itremains fit for purpose in achieving the appropriate balance of challenging yetrealistic targets.

3.17     Attendance data is akey data set in the production of Vulnerability Profiling Data. VulnerabilityProfiling has been developed to support the early identification of pupils atrisk of disengaging from learning as a result of the socio-economic barriersthey face outside of the school environment. This data set enables schools tobe more responsive to pupils with changing patterns of attendance who areidentified as being more at risk of general disengagement.

3.18     Thekey action areas will include:

·        Improving dissemination routes for data;

·        Continue to make the quality assurance ofdata and processes a priority;

·        Annually revise target setting procedures;

·        Use data to analyse the effectiveness ofinitiatives;

·        Analyse Attendance and Wellbeing Serviceperformance data to identify trends;

·        More robust tracking and monitoring of pupiltransfers between schools.

4.     MONITORING THE STRATEGY

4.1        Improvingschool attendance is a high priority for RCT and as such it is being closelymonitored and scrutinised by a range of internal and external partners.

4.2        Externalchallenge is provided by the Education and Lifelong Learning (E&LL) ScrutinyCommittee that receives regular termly updates on the progress of schoolstowards the attendance targets set and the performance of the AWS. 

4.3        ASecondary Heads Attendance Group has been established which provides as atwo-way communication channel between the LA and schools. Key elements of thestrategy will be included as standing agenda items for the group to discusswith feedback to and from the wider Headteacher forum. 

4.4        CentralSouth Consortium Joint Education Service is responsible for delivering theSchool Improvement Service to all five Local Authorities, and as such has arole in ensuring RCT delivers the aims as set out in this strategy.  Challenge Adv

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