Aelodau NEU Cymru “Mae presenoldeb gwael yn peri risg sylweddol i ddysgu, cyrhaeddiad a chyfleoedd bywyd dysgwyr.”
NEU Cymru, Wales’s largest education union, is concerned that average school attendance was below 90% from September 2022 to June 2023, and that 18.8% of children on free school meals have missed 30.5 days over the same period with an average attendance of 83.9%.
The National Education Union Cymru is calling on the Welsh Government for more funding, which would allow schools and colleges to help absent learners undertaking external exams catch up, additional specialist staff, and mental health support and screening to support schools and colleges in tacking poor attendance effectively.
Mary van den Heuvel, Senior Wales Policy Officer of the National Education Union Cymru, said:
"NEU Cymru members have raised important concerns with regard to attendance of children and young people in schools and colleges. This repeated poor attendance is having a significant impact on learning, is disruptive to the classroom environment and can impact on the workload of educators.
"Welsh Government needs to undertake further research and invest in funding and specialist support - including for mental health - for those schools, colleges and learners affected. Those with significant levels of absence will need support to 'catch-up' ahead of their qualifications.
"We know that the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles MS, has announced a task force to help tackle attainment. We look forward to bringing our members' experiences to the Welsh Government on these critical issues."
The text of the motion to conference on this issue was as follows:
Motion 15. Attendance in schools and colleges
Conference Cymru notes:
From September 2022 to June 2023 average school attendance was below 90%.*
18.8% of children on free school meals have missed 30.5 days over the same period with an average attendance of 83.9%.*
The Welsh Government already recognises this concern and the link between attendance, attainment and wellbeing and was consulting on draft guidance for supporting schools in improving attendance.
There are no published statistics on attendance for those in Post-Compulsory Education in schools and Further Education Colleges, however anecdotally it is significantly below pre-pandemic figures.
Conference Cymru believes:
The current levels of attendance in schools and college are unsustainable and poses a significant risk to learners’ learning, attainment and life chances.
The impact of poor attendance causes disruption to the classroom environment with students with repeated absences struggling to follow specifications and schemes of learning.
The impact of poor attendance poses a significant workload issue for educators as they try to chase poor attendees or support learners in catching up.
Conference Cymru instructs the Executive via the Wales Committee to:
Raise concerns regarding attendance with Welsh Government on behalf of educators, taking into consideration the impact it has on educator workload.
Campaign for further research to be undertaken to determine the causes of persistent absence and establish the appropriate actions to be undertaken.
Campaign for funding, additional specialist staff, and mental health support and screening to be provided by Welsh Government to support schools and colleges in tacking poor attendance effectively.
Campaign for funding to allow schools and colleges help absent learners undertaking external exams catch up.
* Attendance of pupils in maintained schools: 5 September 2022 to 2 June 2023 | GOV.WALES