Issue - meetings

School Attendance & Exclusions

Meeting: 14/07/2022 - Education, Youth & Culture Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Item 10)

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(a)       Members accepted the attendance and exclusion data for Flintshire schools and the actions undertaken by officers to support increased engagement and the safety and wellbeing of our children and young people.


(b)       Members recognised that the data provided has been impacted by COVID19 lockdown and school closures.


            In presenting the report the Senior Learning Advisor (Engagement) provided detailed information on the levels of attendance and exclusions across the county which were the main reasons for pupil absence from September 2020 to Summer 2021. Information on the trends for school attendance, levels of fixed term and permanent exclusions was given but the national picture from Welsh Government (WG) was suspended during this period, so the information presented was gathered from our local schools and SIMS data.  He referred Members to Appendix 1 and explained that Welsh Government (WG) had provided specific Covid-19 absence marks for schools to use but many of the absences were recorded with the (i) mark.  The work of the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) and other teams had changed during, and following, the Covid-19 pandemic and he outlined what processes and support were provided to vulnerable learners to maintain contact, ensure they were in a safe environment to enable them to engage with education.


            The Senior Learning Advisor then provided information on the Fixed Term and Permanent Exclusions which had been increasing in recent years and he outlined the reasons for these exclusions.  Detailed information was provided on how his team had changed their approach to proactively look for hotspots and engage with these pupils to hopefully turn the situation around and enable them to return to education.


            Following several questions from Members the Senior Learning Advisor provided detailed information on the exclusion process, patterns of behaviour, marks used by Head Teachers and responsibility for logging absences.  The pandemic had impacted pupils attendance at school with covid, mental health and other issues a concern.  He outlined the proactive way that engagement with these pupils was taking place to understand the reasons for absence and provide support to pupils and families to enable them to return to school.   


            The Senior Learning Advisor then referred to unauthorized absences and provided information on the Welsh Government (WG) thresholds and levels within Flintshire schools.  It was anticipated that the situation would improve with the new approaches from the Education Welfare Service (EWS) that would be in place from September. The Chief Officer (Education & Youth) confirmed that schools wanted to keep unauthorized absences to a minimum from a safeguarding perspective and outlined the systems in place in schools such as the Attendance Policy which required follow up from the school from the first day of absence if no contact had been received from the parents.  Head Teachers could escalate unauthorised absences to the EWS so that fixed penalty notices could be issued.  The Senior Learning Advisor reported on the monthly meetings held with the Education Other than at School team (EOTAS) and gave an overview of the Early Intervention Strategy to help, assist and support pupils and families to enable better outcomes.    


            Councillor Andrew Parkhurst asked if there was a target for the whole of Flintshire not individual schools for unauthorised absences.  In response the Chief Officer (Education & Youth) commented their aspiration would be zero but recognized that there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10