The report was presented to the Committee by Sarah Tregaskis, Service Manager - Education Services Trading, Development and Delivery and Nici Scott-Moylan - Team Lead Attendance Service.
It was confirmed that the report covered the last academic year up to the 21st July 2022. The data was published by the Department of Education on the 16th March 2023. The Committee noted that since the Covid Pandemic there had been significant disruption to school attendance in Warwickshire, and nationally. It has been identified as a high priority for officers/
It was confirmed that the Attendance Alliance is working with council officers on getting children back into school on a regular basis. The joint approach is focusing on all schools and academies. Members noted that officers are collaborating closely with John Coleman, Assistant Director - Children & Families and Marina Kitchen, Service Manager for Early Help & Targeted Support Services.
It was noted that the overall school absence rate had increased from 4.7% to 8.1% in Warwickshire. Prior to Covid, performance in this area had always been in line with statistical neighbours and nationally. The current review involves looking at why recovery from covid has been slower in Warwickshire in relation to attendance. Members learnt that North Warwickshire has the highest percentage of non-attendance in Warwickshire, and Warwick District has the lowest percentage.
The Chair commented that there has been a lot of concern about the recovery from covid and that the report highlights this.
Councillor Pete Gilbert commented that questions were raised about some of the decisions made by Warwickshire County Council and the Government in relation to the covid response. The data in the report suggests that members were correct in asking the questions at the time. Councillor Gilbert added that should there be a ‘next time,’ lessons must be learnt.
The Chair added that the information in the report suggests that those who are most vulnerable have been the worst affected. Sarah Tregaskis responded that there is still a lot of data that needs to be unpacked, and that the data is coming direct from the schools. Nici Scott-Moylan added that moving forward will involve a lot more collaborative working in order to get support to the most vulnerable as soon as possible. County officers are working to maximise a multi-agency approach to improve outcomes for children.
The Chair questioned how much was known at the time; for example, information on which children weren’t logging in for lessons, or didn’t have IT provisions must have been available. Sarah Tregaskis responded that the data in the report was for the last academic year, when there was still a high number of covid cases. During the primary lockdown, officers were working closely with schools. But it was an unknown period of time and a lot of lessons have been learnt that will be taken forward.
The Committee noted that more up to date information is now available that suggests that there has been an improvement in attendance across Warwickshire. The ... view the full minutes text for item 7