Isle of Wight councillor Paul Fuller.
EFFORTS to reduce school absence and truancy rates on the Isle of Wight, currently the worst in the country, have already had an impact.
Attendance during the first three months of the current academic year had improved by two per cent, compared with the same period last year, Isle of Wight Council education officer Jackie Boxx told a meeting of the authority’s children and young people scrutiny panel.
She admitted a report on absence rates, presented to the panel, made 'very bleak reading’ but said steps had been taken to analyse the reasons for non-attendance and implement a series of measures to tackle them.
They include establishing a steering group comprising headteachers and council officers to monitor absence rates and hold schools to account, helping schools identify patterns of non-attendance and intervene earlier, reducing illness absence and rewarding good attendance.
Cllr Paul Fuller said he wanted to see results: "I want to hear we will not be 150th out of 150 local authorities next year. It’s a real concern. I don’t want to have to justify to my community why we are doing such a rotten job."
The panel discussed establishing a task and finish group to quiz secondary school leaders on their attainment and attendance figures.
Officers suggested establishing an advisory panel, which would meet in private, and panel chairman Cllr John Howe agreed school bosses might be more forthcoming if the press were excluded, but Cllr Chris Whitehouse said the panel’s role was to challenge schools in public.