ASCL Cymru comment on school attendance figures

Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, comments on the latest school attendance statistics published by the Welsh government. 

“The passing of the first two full weeks of the spring term have seen attendance deteriorate further in our schools, with even more students away from the classroom. ‚ÄčNot a single year group for statutory aged pupils has hit 90% attendance. This does not bode well for the rest of the academic year. 

“It is a significant concern that the attendance rate for both primary and secondary-aged pupils is lowest among our exam-age learners, who are due to sit potentially career-shaping exams in just a few weeks’ time. Almost a quarter of those due to take A-levels were not in the classroom last week. Indeed attendance for this particular year group has been stubbornly low for the duration of this academic year. 

“The Welsh government has thankfully opted to take things slowly in terms of reducing Covid measures in schools and colleges across Wales. However, the contingency framework schools will move to after half-term is flabby, offering little practical assistance or clarity and is largely down to local interpretation.

“Schools need a precise and coherent set of guidelines under which they are expected to operate but the framework does not currently offer schools and colleges any reassurance that it will lead to a higher attendance rate for all learners.

“We asked the Welsh government to be more direct in its guidance when it first introduced the framework at the start of the 2021 autumn term but, despite the practical problems it caused schools and colleges, it has still not been revised.”