Posted on: Friday 1 December 2023
A secondary school has seen a remarkable increase in attendance rates thanks to the range of support it offers pupils struggling to go to school.
Attendance rates at St Alban’s RC High School, in Pontypool, have increased from 90 per cent in 2021/22 to just over 94 per cent in November 2023, which is five per cent above the national average for secondary schools.
In a recent Estyn inspection report, the school was praised for the support it gives pupils whose absence is classed as Emotional Based School Non Attendance, which means they experience anxiety or distress at the thought of going to school.
The help offered is based on the individual pupil’s needs and can range from a simple drop in session, to home and community based visits.
It’s an approach that has helped one Year 9 pupil increase her attendance from 21 per cent in October 2022 to 84 per cent in November 2023.
Teacher Gemma Marsh has worked closely with the pupil, alongside the school’s wellbeing and Additional Learning Needs teams to help reintegrate them into the school environment.
She said: “Gemma Marsh has been great in helping me to come back into school, she listens to me and helps me with things I find hard about school.”
Headteacher at the school, Stephen Lord, said: “We are very proud of the progress and achievements of our pupils, especially those who have faced challenges to attending school regularly.
“We believe that every pupil deserves the opportunity to learn and thrive in a safe and supportive environment, and that attendance is key to their academic success, as well as improved wellbeing.
“We have invested a lot of time and resources into developing and implementing effective support systems and we are delighted to see the results. We will continue to monitor and evaluate our attendance strategies, and to work with our pupils, parents, staff and partners to ensure that we provide the best possible education and support for our pupils.”
According to the school’s analysis, pupils will attendance rates of around 95 per cent achieve an average of B grades and above at GCSE, those with 90 per cent get an average of C and above and those with 80 per cent get E and F grades and above.
Councillor Richard Clark, Executive Member for Children, Families and Education at Torfaen Council, said “I am very impressed by the extraordinary increase in attendance rates at St Alban’s RC High School. which clearly shows the dedication and commitment of the staff and pupils to overcome the challenges.
“The school’s support for pupils with anxiety or distress is in line with the council’s county plan measures to promote wellbeing and resilience among our children and young people, and to ensure that they have access to high quality education and support."