The key to improving attendance in primary schools lies in a multi-strategy approach

Primary schools that maintain or improve pupils’ attendance pay consistent attention to it and use a variety of strategies rather than just one particular approach. In a report published today, Estyn highlights the various strategies employed by schools that have successfully tackled poor attendance.

The report, ‘Effective practice in improving attendance in primary schools’, contains case studies of best practice from primary schools across Wales. Inspectors found that schools with consistently good or improved attendance:

  • Create a welcoming environment for pupils
  • Have a clear attendance policy
  • Engage well with pupils and parents
  • Analyse and monitor data about absence and the reasons for it
  • Evaluate the impact of attendance strategies
  • Develop strong links with community support services
  • Have specified staff responsible for improving attendance
  • Use appropriate rewards and incentives
  • Involve school leaders and governors in evaluating attendance strategies

Meilyr Rowlands, Chief Inspector, says:

“Although there has been an improvement in attendance rates over the last year, pupils in Welsh primary schools still miss more school than those in the rest of the UK.

“Effective school leaders understand the importance of attendance to pupils’ life chances. I am confident that the strategies outlined in the report will help schools to improve pupils’ attendance and continue the upward trend in attendance rates.”

Parkland Primary School in Swansea is one of the schools visited by Estyn. The best practice case study in the report outlines the successful strategies the school uses to improve attendance. The school engages effectively with pupils and parents to raise their awareness of the importance of good attendance. By also providing access to support from community services and regular monitoring and evaluation the school has successfully improved attendance rates over the last four years. Further case studies can be found in the full report.

The report recommends that schools implement all the strategies identified in the report to make sure that all pupils attend school regularly. In addition, local authorities and consortia should facilitate the sharing of best practice and ensure that challenge advisers support and challenge to school leaders about pupils’ attendance. Finally, it is recommended that the Welsh Government promote their 2011 guidance outlining strategies for schools to improve attendance and manage lateness.

Notes to Editors:

About the report

The evidence base of the report includes:

  • Visits to 20 primary schools
  • Scrutiny of relevant data sources and inspections

Best practice case studies

  • Tredegarville Primary School, Cardiff
  • Herbert Thompson Primary School, Cardiff
  • St Monica’s Church-in-Wales Primary School, Cardiff
  • Christchurch Primary School, Denbighshire
  • Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llwyncelyn, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • Parkland Primary School, Swansea
  • St Helen’s Primary School, Swansea
  • Acton Park Primary School, Wrexham

Publication date

Wednesday, 17 June, 2015