Pupil attendance at both primary and secondary schools in Leeds has reached the highest levels ever according to the latest figures released last week.
For the autumn term 2011/12 attendance at primary schools improved by 1.7% on the previous year to 95.9% and attendance at secondary schools also increased by 1.7% to 94.1%.
These figures put Leeds in-line with the national average for primary schools, which was also 95.9%, and only 0.4% under the national average for secondary, which is 94.5%.
Changes in how schools, Leeds City Council and voluntary services work together to tackle poor attendance is one aspect which has helped bring about this improvement.
By working much more closely together in the locality the council and schools provide coordinated support for individual children and families, as well as delivering locality-wide interventions, to tackle the underlying issues which lead to poor school attendance.
Such interventions address problems such as mental health, domestic violence, unemployment, crime and anti-social behaviour, all of which can have a massive difference on a child’s attendance at school.
Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“These figures demonstrate real progress for Leeds and are extremely good news. Improving school attendance is one of our three obsessions and so I am pleased to see our numbers improving. However, we do recognise that there is more to do and we are determined to continue to improve attendance levels year after year.
“The vast majority of children and young people in Leeds attend school regularly. However, for us, too many children are still experiencing problems that prevent them achieving their potential.
“To address attendance issues properly it is important to recognise that poor attendance at school can be a symptom of other more complex problems at home and in the community. This is why we have worked hard to improve services for these children and families to ensure they get the support they need early on before problems become too entrenched.
“Attending school regularly is probably the most important thing a child can do to improve their life chances, so we will do all we can to help as many children get the education they deserve. “
The figures which were released yesterday also show that persistent absence in Leeds secondary schools fell dramatically from 11.2% to 7.7%.
Persistent absence in Leeds primary schools also fell, from 4.3% in the 10-11 academic year, to 4.0% in the 11-12 autumn term. This ranks Leeds 75 out of 152 local authorities and ahead of the statistical neighbour average at 4.4%.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713