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Welsh AMs call for strategy to tackle truancy

13/08/2013 Joanna
Welsh assembly members (AMs) have urged the country's government to implement a national strategy to help staff in teacher jobs reduce truanting in schools.

Attendance at Welsh schools has been getting better since 2005-06, with the average truancy rate for secondary schools decreasing to 1.4 per cent in 2011-12.

However, with nine local education authorities having higher secondary truancy rates than this - the worst of which is Cardiff, with 2.7 per cent - the Welsh government believes more needs to be done.

Now the Children and Young People Committee of AMs has published a report on the situation, in which it calls for a unified national strategy for improving attendance and behaviour in Welsh schools.

While accepting there is no 'one size fits all' solution, the committee has highlighted inconsistencies between the approaches taken by Wales' 22 local authorities, while claiming not enough is being done to share best practices between them.

Its chair Lynn Neagle asserted: "Every child in Wales deserves the best possible start in life with a high quality education and a positive learning environment."

She said having "in effect, 22 different plans to improve these standards is inconsistent and risks missed opportunities".

Regional consortia have already been established in Wales with a view to raising standards in areas where education watchdog Estyn has deemed local councils are failing to support schools sufficiently in increasing attainment.

The committee believes the regional consortium model could also help to improve attendance and behaviour and advocated that consortia's role in doing so be more clearly defined.

Furthermore, it has argued that in some local authority areas greater emphasis needs be placed on evidence-based behaviour management training for teachers, both in their initial training and later continuous professional development.

A Welsh government spokesman told BBC News it was implementing a number of measures to reduce truanting in Wales' schools and was making good progress on this issue.

He added that £800,000 has been allocated to consortia through grant funding to support the implementation of a wide range of strategies for improving attendance.

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