Drive launched to tackle pupil attendance in Neath Port Talbot
EDUCATION chiefs hope they won't be bottom of the class for long when it comes to primary school attendance.
Neath Port Talbot Council has launched a drive to improve pupil attendance in primary and secondary schools across the county.
For primary school attendance the authority currently stands at 93.1 per cent — 21 out of the 22 councils in Wales. The Welsh average is 93.8 per cent.
Secondary school attendance stands at 92.6 per cent — 11 out 22 authorities. The Welsh average is 92.2 per cent.
Deputy leader and cabinet member for education, school improvement and lifelong learning, Peter Rees, said he is urging parents, carers, teachers, head teachers, governors and pupils to make attendance a top priority.
"I am urging for parents and carers to ensure their children are going to school as much as possible, and on time," he said.
"If a child is not at school then they are not learning."
The council's head of support services and commissioning development, Andrew Thomas, said there is a "strong link" between attendance and attainment.
He said: "Below 95 per cent attendance the performance drops quite rapidly.
"If their attendance is 90 per cent between five to 16, by the end of their school life they will have missed a whole year."
Mr Thomas said they have invested in education welfare officers and are holding a training day next week for head teachers and school representatives to help them get the message across to parents and carers about the importance of attendance. A letter has also gone out to all parents and Mr Rees said he is urging governors to also play a part.
"We have good schools and we have good results," said Mr Thomas. "If we can get the children in the schools much more we will get better results.
"Ninety-five per cent is the minimum we are looking to achieve. This is about setting a standard for Neath Port Talbot."
Mr Rees added: "I am urging parents to help us achieve this. I would like to see us reaching our target and even 96 per cent and 97 per cent if possible. This is really important and it is a priority."