Tameside Attendance Strategy consultation launched at schools conference

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EDUCATORS are being consulted on an innovative strategy to boost attendance in Tameside's schools.

Education leaders, Council services, headteachers, police and health experts were united at the Tameside Attendance Conference where they signed a pledge to promote good attendance in all schools and gave their support to the strategy and consultation.

Tameside Council organised the event at Dukinfield Town Hall on Wednesday 21 June to bring educators together to ensure a consistent, supported approach to helping children achieve good attendance and fulfil their potential. Presentations included keynote speaker, Diane McConnell, a consultant for the Department for Education.

Tameside has traditionally had low rates of pupil absence, with the most recent data showing an absence rate of 4.2% compared to 4.6% nationally. But some of the borough's most vulnerable children are more likely to be absent from school, having a detrimental impact on their progress and attainment. And the COVID-19 pandemic created huge disruption for children, families, and educators with school attendance becoming more challenging for all and children needing to catch-up on learning.

Evidence shows that excellent attendance at school is key to ensuring positive outcomes. Missing lessons leaves students vulnerable to falling behind, creating gaps in their learning and diminishing their self-confidence.

Research by Universities UK indicates that children with poor attendance are five times less likely to achieve five strong passes at GCSE, preventing them from going on to Higher Education or into employment.

Poor attendance can also lead to poor emotional health and wellbeing, a greater risk of anti-social behaviour and a greater likelihood of becoming a victim of crime.

The strategy sets out a clear response built on early intervention so that children and families get the help they need when they need it, regardless of which setting they attend. The multi-agency approach means children and families will get help from the right person or service at the right time.

It will also help promote and celebrate good attendance, develop and share good practice resources and revise safeguarding practices.

One of its guiding principles is to build on existing partnership working with schools, academies, colleges, early years providers, partners and stakeholders, ensuring a local approach is not only in line with current Government guidance and legislation, but recognises the needs of our community, post pandemic, and seeks to empower and support them. This will inspire confidence to attend school rather than exercising statutory powers to enforce it.

The pledge sets out principles including working together to support the strategy, championing outstanding and improved attendance and supporting parents and carers to prioritise school attendance.

Tameside Council Executive Member for Education, Achievement and Equalities, Councillor Leanne Feeley, said: "Our schools, council teams, children and families have made tremendous efforts to ensure pupils attend school regularly. School is the best place for our children and 100% attendance brings lifelong benefits. And it's not just about academic success – it's about learning about the world, relationships and ourselves, and trying new things and making friends.

"The strategy aims to build on our existing partnership arrangements, to work together from the earliest opportunities to help parents and carers meet this legal duty, secure in the knowledge that their child is understood and well supported.

"When there are specific problems with attendance, the Council, its partners and schools will work closely to support families and children. We will take a carefully managed approach and seek to understand, encourage and support children and young people to attend school every day.

"We have some strong partnership arrangements in place that we can strengthen to really make a difference together."

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