Posted on: Monday 8 May 2023
A secondary school in Torfaen has launched a new initiative that rewards good attendance in efforts to reduce unauthorised absences.
Abersychan School has introduced the Challenge 21 initiative in September to recognise pupils who attend school every day for a month - or 21 days.
Since it was introduced, more than 380 pupils have won prizes including free bacon rolls and pizza at break time or lunch times, cinema tickets and a roller-skating trip.
Among those taking part is Year 8 pupil Olivia, who has seen her attendance increase by 14 per cent. She said: “Knowing the challenge was running gave me the personal goal to be in school every day to achieve the reward and complete the challenge”.
Year 10 pupil Mason, who has increased his attendance by 9.9 per cent, said: “It was an added bonus to be rewarded for being in school every day, especially roller-skating”.
Alongside the Challenge 21 initiative the school also runs attendance circles, which involves pupils whose attendance sits between 80-90 per cent, coming together to discuss their absences, all whilst setting goals to maintain or improve future attendance.
School attendance rates in Torfaen fell during the Covid pandemic and the borough now has one of the lowest average attendance rates in Wales.
In November, Torfaen Council launched its #NotInMissOut campaign to celebrate the benefits of going to school and to reduce the number of unauthorised absences.
Unauthorised absences are recorded when a pupil is absent without an explanation or where schools do not consider the reason given an acceptable cause to miss school.
Phil Collins, Headteacher at Abersychan School, said: “We look forward to continue running Challenge 21 in line with Torfaen Council’s #NotInMissOut campaign, in hope that we continue to see a vast improvement in every pupil’s attendance across all year groups.
“So far, as a result of these challenges we have seen pupils maintain or improve their attendance percentage.”
If a child cannot attend school, parents or carers should report them absent as soon as possible. Parents and carers should also ensure schools have their correct contact details.
If a child is struggling to attend school on a regular basis, parents and carers should speak to their school or contact the Council’s Education Welfare team on 01495 766965.