Labour challenge SCC to improve attendance

Labour Councillors will today challenge the administration to improve attendance at Suffolk schools after shocking government figures show attendance as well as attainment is poor.

Government figures show that in 2012/13 Suffolk was 131st in the league table for attendance, having previously been 10th in 2003. Whilst across the country other authorities have recognised that there is a problem, Suffolk once again lags behind.

The fall in Suffolk’s attendance levels coincided with the move, brought about by the Conservative administration, to integrated teams. Since then the county has had falling attendance and falling attainment.

Labour Spokesperson for Education Cllr Sonia Barker said “If children are not at school then they cannot learn; it’s not rocket science. We need to make sure that the systems are put in place to improve school attendance. My feeling is that Education Welfare Officers are the vehicle to fulfil this aim. They have the skills and knowledge to spot attendance issues and we feel they should be more supported to help vulnerable young people and families.’

She added, “There are many reasons why children fail to attend school from the very serious, to the rather trivial. We know that direct intervention with young people on a face-to-face basis is one of the best ways to tackle non-attendance.”

Figures also show that the number of penalty notices issued to Suffolk parents whose children have persistent unauthorised absence is also very low. The number of penalty notices in Suffolk is 0.63 per 100 pupils, where as in London the number is 11.57.

Cllr Barker added “We know that London schools have much better attainment than Suffolk schools, but we also know that the authorities in London take attendance much more seriously than Suffolk County Council. It is time this administration stepped up to the plate and showed some leadership over the subject of attendance at school.”

“Whilst this administration tinkers around the edges with the talking shop that is ‘Raising the Bar’, the Labour Group are offering real solutions to the problems of education in Suffolk.”

Councillor Sonia Barker (Lab): Spokesperson for Education, Skills and Young People
Mobile: 07714 598046

Notes to Editors:
Attendance figures taken from the Statistical First Release data from the Department for Education

Penalty notices (figures from DfE website)
Penalty notices per 100 PA pupils
All England: 8.32
Suffolk: 0.63
East of England: 6.31
London 11.57
Prosecutions per 100 pupils
England: 1.51
Suffolk: 1.35
East of England: 1.06
London: 2.29
If you are a persistently absent pupil then you are 20% more likely to have your parent prosecuted if you live outside Suffolk than inside Suffolk. If you like in London you are 70% more likely.
You are also 13 times more likely to get a penalty notice if you live outside Suffolk and 18 times more likely if you like in London.

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