Problems will follow if pupils don’t show

Fleetwood High School assistant head teacher Shaun MacNeill (in the van) with some of the school's 100 per cent attenders.
Fleetwood High School assistant head teacher Shaun MacNeill (in the van) with some of the school's 100 per cent attenders.

ONE of Fleetwood High School’s senior teachers has stressed the importance of pupil attendance levels as a link to performance.

Shaun MacNeill, an assistant head at the school, said the school had already made a difference by launching its attendance bus to cut down on truancy.

The vehicle picks up pupils who have issues with attending, and the importance of attending is stressed to the parents.

But Mr MacNeill, (pictured with some of the school’s 100 per cent attenders) said there were also tough penalties for parents who habitually allowed their children to miss school.

Clarifying what constituted an authorised absence, he said: “Whether or not an absence is authorised is a decision for the school and in general schools accept a note from parents when their child is ill.

“However if the child is repeatedly absent or if the school has not been notified by the parent the school may insist on medical evidence that the child is, indeed, unfit for school.

“If this is not forthcoming the school can describe the absence as ‘unauthorised’.

“Learning and attendance are closely linked – research shows that, on average, for every 17 school days missed, a pupil drops a GCSE grade and 21 per cent of pupils with poor attendance (less than 85 per cent) leave school with no qualifications whereas only 3 per cent with good attendance do.

He added: “Learning and achieving qualifications is every child’s right – and an increasingly essential necessity.

“Most parents recognise this and encourage good attendance, but sanctions will be applied to those who don’t.

“These include Fixed Penalty Notices of between £60 and £100, a court appearance and Educational Supervision Orders.

“Before legal action is taken the school tries to work with the child and parents, offered mentoring or rewards.

“To help raise awareness of the link between attendance, learning and qualifications the attendance van has become a feature in Fleetwood.”