Kent’s Education Officials Take Creative Measures to Boost Attendance Post-Pandemic

Kent's Education Officials Take Creative Measures to Boost Attendance Post-Pandemic

Kent’s Education Officials Strive to Improve Attendance Post-Pandemic

In response to the government’s push to increase school attendance, Kent’s school leaders are taking creative measures to tackle low attendance rates.

One such measure is teachers dressing up as mascots, such as Attendance Ted and Be on Time Bunny, to encourage children to come to school. The Golden Thread Alliance, a multi-academy trust running nine primary schools in Dartford and Gravesham, has also been blasting music in the playground and hiring ice cream vans to make school more fun and appealing to students.

However, the organization’s chief executive, Garry Ratcliffe, acknowledges that improving attendance is a challenge for all levels of education, including primary, secondary, and special schools. One of the main reasons for low attendance, according to Ratcliffe, is parents taking unauthorized holidays due to the high cost of travel during school term times.

To address this issue, the government has announced plans to increase fines for parents who take their children out of school without permission. The Department for Education (DfE) has also stated that charges must be considered if a child misses five school days. The fines will increase from £60 to £80 if paid within 21 days, and from £120 to £160 if paid within 28 days.

Ratcliffe believes that schools should focus on promoting attendance through positive incentives and rewards rather than solely relying on penalties. He also emphasizes the responsibility of parents to ensure their children attend school regularly and the potential negative impact of unauthorized absences on both learning and family finances.

At Cecil Road Primary and Nursery School, the staff has come up with various creative methods to encourage attendance, including dressing up as mascots, hosting cinema hours, and allowing classes to wear their own clothes as a reward for perfect attendance. The school’s family liaison officer, Bernadette Vincent, believes that making school fun and enjoyable for children will ultimately lead to better attendance.

However, not all schools have seen success with these methods. The Northfleet Schools Co-Operative Trust primary school has had to resort to sending reminders, making home visits, and even issuing penalty fines in their efforts to improve attendance.

Despite the challenges, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has named rising attendance as a top priority. She believes that schools and teachers play a crucial role in unlocking children’s potential and social skills, making it essential to address persistent absence and get students back in the classroom.

To further improve attendance rates, schools will now be required to share daily attendance registers with education officials, councils, and trusts to identify any concerning trends. As Kent’s education officials continue to strive towards improving attendance post-pandemic, it is crucial for parents to understand the importance of regular school attendance for their child’s education and future success.

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