School attendance bucks national trend to improve in Nottingham

School absence has improved in Nottingham – with secondary pupils recording better attendance than the national average.

Nottingham City Council has led a tough stance on getting children into school – with a zero tolerance approach to persistent absence, while offering rewards and incentives to pupils with the best attendance.

Latest figures for Autumn term 2017 and Spring term 2018 have been released by the Department for Education today (18 October). They show Nottingham’s attendance continues to improve, recording the best figures for 10 years, while the national picture has worsened:

  • Overall absence for primary and secondary schools in Nottingham has fallen to 4.7% – bringing it level with the English national average, which increased by 0.2%
  • Secondary school absence in Nottingham has decreased from 5.6% to 5.2%, which is below the nation average, which increased to 5.4%
  • Primary school absence remains at 4.3% in Nottingham, just 0.1% behind the national average of 4.2%
  • Nottingham persistent absence has decreased 0.3% to 12.1% while the England rate increased 0.9% to 11.3%. This means that the Nottingham-England gap has reduced from -2.0% to -0.8%.

Welcoming the improvements, John Dexter, Director of Education in Nottingham, said: “These new figures show that Nottingham’s schools continue to move in the right direction – well done to everyone who has played a part in this: pupils, parents, school staff and the council.

“We’ve taken a tough stance on attendance and give a very clear message to pupils: we expect you to be in school. The reason is simple – we want our pupils to succeed in their education and we believe that being in school gives them the best chance to do this.

“When children are persistently absent from school we will take action against parents through fines and possible court action.

“We know that the majority of parents act responsibly to ensure their children are in school when they should be; but it is vital that we tackle those who are breaking the law.”

Fines of £60 per parent per child are issued through the courts for unauthorised absence. If this is not paid in 21 days, the fine doubles to £120 per parent, per child. If the fine is still unpaid, courts can impose tougher fines (with court costs) of up to £2,500 – and even have the power to issue prison sentences.

Today’s figures follow a long-term plan to improve school performance in Nottingham City through the Education Improvement Board. The City Council’s Education Welfare Service is also working with schools and academies to promote and recognise excellent attendance and good behaviour. Over the past few years, pupils with the best or most improved attendance have been recognised at the annual Lord Mayor’s Attendance Awards.

Mr Dexter added: “Even a pupil with 90% attendance is effectively missing one day of school every two weeks – that’s like missing a whole year off during their time in school. Ultimately, we want children to be in school so that they can achieve their full potential. Missing 17 days of school a year has been proved to be the difference between getting one higher grade at GCSE level – and that is crucial for our young people.”

Parents can help their child’s attendance at school by:

  • Making sure their child gets to school on time
  • Not booking holidays during term time
  • Contacting the school the first day a child is off sick.

More help and advice on attendance is available from www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/schoolattendance

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