Virtual schools attendance

Matthew Sims, Bury Virtual School Education Welfare Officer, talks about why attendance at school is important

My name is Matthew Sims and I am the Education Welfare Officer for all Looked After Children (LAC) in Bury. I am a qualified teacher and have worked with young people my whole working life ranging from a mainstream primary school teacher, through to a prison officer with juveniles and young offenders.

I have seen first-hand what can happen when young people are not engaged in their learning. I passionately believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that every child has access to a full and effective education. A vital part of this is helping children overcome any obstacles that are preventing them from accessing this education.

'Is attendance that important?' is a question I am often asked. Does it matter if a child is off every so often with a headache or a cold, or wanted a lie in for the odd day, or just weren't feeling well.  All of these small absences add up and having just a half a day off each week means that a child is missing 10% of their education. Statistics show that poor attendance does directly link to children achieving less academically. Because we are ambitious for our children and young people, our aim, therefore, is for each child to have as high as an attendance as possible.  If a child drops below 90% then an attendance officer can become involved in helping that child back into school/learning.

Good attendance is also linked to less likelihood of involvement in anti-social behaviour and ensures that children and young people are kept safe during the school day. Good attendance also helps children develop better socially mixing with their peer group and with positive role models on a more frequent basis.

Finally, it should be noted that attending school is a legal requirement and all children up to the age of 18 must be involved in full time education or training. Our children are our future and it is vitally important that we support them in their education to provide a brighter future for all.

If you have any concerns about the attendance of a looked after pupil, please contact Matthew Sims on 0161-253-6972.

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