School absence rates improve

By Ross Findon

Monday, January 27, 2014

 

ABSENCE rates at Isle of Wight schools — once the worst in the country — have started to improve, according to the Isle of Wight Council.

Figures published last autumn revealed that in 2011-12 the secondary school absence rate was 8.6%, compared to 5.9% nationally.

The persistent absent rate, for those who missed 15% or more school, was 13.6% compared to the national average of 7.4%.

But efforts to tackle the issue have started to work, the council said today (Monday).

Between September and December 2013 primary school attendance rose to 96.39%, a 2% increase compared to the same period in 2012 and above the national average.

Secondary school attendance rose almost 3%, to 94.2%, in line with the national average.

Persistent absence in primary schools was almost halved, falling to 3.14%, and in secondary schools, the persistent absence rate fell from 11.4% in 2012 to 7% in 2013 for the same period.

Nationally, tougher fines have been introduced and more than 320 Islanders have been hit with £60 penalties for unauthorised absences.

On the Island, steps have included parent meetings, strengthened education welfare and more staff training. A nurse is due to be appointed this year to help families manage absence due to long-term illnesses.

Council cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Richard Priest said exam performance was linked to attendance and improvements needed to continue.

He said: "I think the figures show that parents and schools are working better together and we need to build on this for the future, and continue to explain to children and young people the importance of going to school.

"Support is available for families if problems are identified early and shared with schools.

"Schools are to be congratulated for their work in this area and are being supported by measures recently brought in by the council and its strategic partner Hampshire County Council to tackle absences in schools. These include more training of school staff, the setting up of parental meetings when attendance levels drop below a certain level and strengthening the education welfare service."

Reporter: ross.findon@iwcp.co.uk

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by Keven Ball

29th January 2014, at 09:53:30

I agree James, sadly you and I do not make the rules - we just have to adhere to them! I wish you luck and hope you can somehow manage your holidays around work one way or another. Good luck!

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by James McAdder

29th January 2014, at 06:42:25

Yes, Keven,

A child needs a holiday as much as an adult.

It gives them something to look forward to. A reward for hard work.

And this idiotic legislation has snatched that away from some of the hardest working families in the UK merely to cynically manipulate some statistics.

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by Keven Ball

28th January 2014, at 22:39:58

@ jan
Quite right I did say that - but the meaning of 'cheap' is not about pricing but about the importance of it, does a child need a holiday instead of being in the classroom at what cost... I have said all I need to here. Again look over my posts I feel I have added quite a well balanced debate below!

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by jan hickman

28th January 2014, at 18:28:27

As I said, imagine if we all travel, and fight, for the same dates nationwide...road chaos, parking chaos, and empty beaches out of holiday weeks....what rubbish...!!! I say no...and do should any self respecting parent who feels insulted by this latest onslaught on parental rights...a good parent shouldn't be penalised, and having a holiday doth not a bad parent make!!!!!!

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by jan hickman

28th January 2014, at 18:25:40

Btw, Keven, you did suggest " why on earth take your children out of school..so they can have a cheap holiday' ..quoted from your comment at 16.46 yesterday!!!! That's I responded there's no such thing as a cheap holiday !! It's the difference between a holiday, or no holiday...simple as that....and I stand firm on the opinion that family holidays are as important to a child as going to school, and that it's a disgraceful manipulation to greedily squeeze more money from scared parents, the nanny state approaches, ignore this at your peril!!

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by Keven Ball

28th January 2014, at 16:45:08

I agree James, sadly you and I do not make the rules - we just have to adhere to them! I wish you luck and hope you can somehow manage your holidays around work one way or another. Good luck!

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by James McAdder

28th January 2014, at 16:28:15

Yes, Keven

The problem IS children who never attend school.

The problem is this sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut will not do anything to deter regular truants and their often deadbeat parents. They will get fined, not pay it, get taken to court, handed a bigger fine, not pay it, back to court and get away with a caution.

It is, as I have said, a cynical attempt to improve headline absence figures by hitting soft targets ( conscientious parents who just want a week away from everyday life) rather than the real problem (kids who bunk off on a regular basis and parents who don't give a damn)

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by Keven Ball

28th January 2014, at 15:54:02

@ James
There is not much I can say or add now other than try a new job? You can take your children out of school any time you want... However, you might be facing a fine once they return! I wish you well and respect you for working (and your wife) but I feel the point that schools do this is down to the children who never attend school as a deterrent. Sadly, the good children get punished as a result too with their parents in your case!

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by James McAdder

28th January 2014, at 15:16:30

Keven,

Anyone who works in a job where they have to provide cover find it exceedingly difficult getting time off work during school holidays. My wife, a nurse, hasn't had both Christmas day and Boxing day off for as long as I can remember and we can never get the same week off during the summer holidays.

The last family holiday we had was 3 years ago when we visited my sister in the US, and that was an authorised absence.

I can't see how my children are ever going to see their aunt again unless I get very lucky with our leave, wait until they leave school (7 years) or pay the fine.

Guess which I'm going to do?

Bottom line. It is the parent's responsibility to ensure their children receive a well rounded education. It is, absolutely NOT any business of an interfering nanny state, particularly when the sole aim of this legislation is to falsely skew truancy figures.

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by Keven Ball

28th January 2014, at 14:16:56

*Your job - not you job!

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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