Merton’s school attendance improves

MERTON’S SCHOOL ATTENDANCE IMPROVES
New figures show more local students are attending their schools

Attendance at Merton’s Primary Schools is up for the third year in a row. This year’s figures from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) show 93.9 per cent of 5 to 11 year-olds in the borough are regularly attending school: a 0.5 per cent increase on last year.

Attendance by Secondary School students was also up to 91.4per cent, marking a 1.1per cent increase on last year’s figure.

Councillor Geraldine Stanford, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “This double success is a significant improvement for both Primary and Secondary schools and shows that Merton’s attendance is improving year on year. Our aim is to continue to improve next year and reach the national averages.”

The most recent government figures show how close the borough is to bringing its schools into line with the national attendance average. In 2001/2 average attendances at Primary School was 94.1 per cent and 91.3 per cent for Secondary Schools.

Attendance figures were up largely thanks to Merton’s crackdown on unauthorised absences – truancy – from schools. The figures also showed that truancy fell by 0.4 per cent overall in the borough in 2002/3.

Councillor Stanford explained how Merton’s truancy crackdown worked. She added “a number of truancy patrols were conducted during the year and some parents have been successfully prosecuted for their child’s non-attendance at school, which has obviously had an impact on the overall attendance across the borough.”

The Council also worked alongside schools, students, parents and other groups to tackle truancy and boost attendance. Councillor Stanford said: “The Local Education Authority’s (LEA’s) Education Welfare Officers worked closely with schools offering support, guidance and advice. Officers also worked with other agencies, like Social Services, Community Health and WellCare, to support students and parents, who may be in difficult circumstances.”

“The teachers and school heads worked hard and implemented a number of anti-truancy initiatives, and they are central to these good results, which I would personally like to thank them for. We will continue to work with schools, parents and students. We plan to prosecute more parents, based on the government’s fast track initiative, for failing to educate their students. For example, the LEAs and schools are active