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Low school attendance is not a new issue but is now, post-covid, subject to new influences and pressures. It is complex, ranging from deep and desperate societal issues, real anxiety, as well as some families – regardless of their socio-economic background – viewing the importance of attendance differently to the past. There is more apathy, shifting parental attitudes and working lives along with increased levels of defiance and anti-social behaviour, shown in the escalating number of exclusions

St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School

St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School was seen this year as a positive case study in its local secondary context, attendance has flatlined in the past year, remaining 3-4 percent below pre-covid levels. However, it was as seen a making progress within the Vale of Glamorgan and recently presented to local Secondary Schools on strategies to improve on attendance.

Attendance Figures

Whole school – 90.1%

Year 7 – 91.8%

Year 8 – 90.9%

Year 10 – 89.7%

Year 11 – 88.0%

The Following outlines some of the strategies used in school.

Strategy Impact
Appointed an Associate to the Leadership Team to support raising attendance. Associate has implemented systems based on the Attendance Policy issued in September 2023.
SLT Fortnightly attendance meetings with school Attendance Lead – a tracking system is used to discuss individual students needs and progress. Targets are initiated, key members of staff are informed in order to take actions that have been decided by the Attendance Lead and SLT.
Work with inclusion team in the local authority on a half termly basis. Using advice from the external expert to raise attainment and attendance.
Extra hour allocated to Progress Leaders/Heads of Year to support Attendance Tracking and Intervention. Initial Concern Meetings are held with families/students in order to maintain communication between school and families.
Attendance data given fortnightly to form tutors to discuss with students. Students are informed of their latest attendance. Form tutors are actively discussing pupils’ attendance to raise attainment.
The Attendance Lead conducts weekly ‘Home Visits’ to site and encourage persistent absentees. Building positive relationships, setting up support and removing boundaries to non-attendance.
Termly attendance celebrations and positive letters. Assemblies every half-term to celebrate students with 100% or 97% attendance. The letters are used to communicate to parents/guardians their child’s efforts have been recognised.
Attendance Action Meeting

This meeting is conducted with the Attendance Lead present if, after 4 weeks, there hasn’t been an improvement in the student’s attendance. The Attendance Lead may involve inclusion services after this meeting. This aids the process should an escalation meeting need to be held.

Escalation Meeting

This is coordinated if, after a half-term, there has been no improvement in attendance. At this point the Head of Key Stage and Assistant Headteacher are aware of this student and an ‘Inclusion Service Referral’ is made.

Further actions and support

Moving forward with raising attendance the school still needs:

  • More consistency in the system throughout year groups.
  • To work more with all key stakeholders to improve attendance, and particularly, more involvement from Health.
  • A need for a County/Vale wide campaign to change parental mindsets towards Health.
  • To use transition events more to discuss the importance of attendance.
Positive Student Example
  • Attendance – February 2023 – 10.3%
  • Attendance – February 2024 – 74.2%
  • Student has ASD, is a school refusal due to anxiety and a Germaphobe

School Actions

  • A reduced timetable
  • Regular contact via phone or zoom face to face meetings
  • Referral to CAMHS
  • Referral to SEMHP – OOST provision given

With a graduated response the student now attends school regularly and seems happy, socialises with peers and contributes in class. Attendance is a complex issue that takes a team to support. This student had ALN, inclusion, Health and school attendance lead support throughout this journey.

Matthew Dunn, Deputy Headteacher, St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School
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