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School attendance at record levels

Huw Lewis: Figures are 'undoubtedly good news'

EDUCATION MINISTER Huw Lewis has welcomed the publication of statistics that show persistent school absence is at its lowest ever recorded level.

The Welsh Government statistical release; “Absenteeism by pupil characteristics, 2015” reveals that just 1.4% of primary school pupils were recorded as persistent absentees in 2014-2015, down from 1.7% the previous year and down from 3.4% in 2008/09. Meanwhile, persistent secondary school absence has more than halved since 2008/09.

The statistics also show that absenteeism for pupils eligible for free school meals is at its lowest ever recorded level for both primary and secondary school pupils.

The Welsh Government has introduced a number of measures in recent years to address school attendance, including for those pupils eligible for free school meals. The latest Pupil Deprivation Grant evaluation, published in December 2015 showed that teachers think the PDG is making a real difference and suggests that the consistent improvement in attendance seen in recent years can be attributed to the grant.

The Welsh Government’s Attendance Grant also supported education consortia to work within their authorities and schools to develop and embed effective practices to secure longer-term improvements in school attendance.

Huw Lewis said: “Persistent school absence is now at its lowest level since we started collecting the relevant figures. This is the result of the commitment and dedication of pupils, parents, teachers, local authorities and education consortia who all understand that if young people are going to fulfil their potential, regular school attendance is vital.

“It is particularly pleasing that school attendance among our pupils eligible for free school meals continues to rise. We are absolutely committed to breaking the link between poverty and low attainment and regular school attendance is one of the very best ways of enabling us to achieve this.

“While these statistics are undoubtedly good news we cannot and will not be complacent. We will continue to do all we can to tackle absenteeism and in particular, persistent absence to help learners get the most out of their education.”