Penryn Primary reduced persistent absence by 50%, improved academic scores, and boosted pupil morale.
Putting whole school attendance above the national average.
Summary of results
Suffering from Stagnant Attendance Ratings
Penryn Primary recorded a high persistent absence rate of 19% in 2018. As pupils missed key parts of the progressive curriculum their attainment was noticeably affected. Teachers’ workload increased as they were forced to work extra time to catch pupils up. And even Ofsted had advised reducing the number of persistently absent pupils in their 2018 inspection, marking the school as Requiring Improvement.
Before contacting Peninsula Education, Headteacher James Hitchens spent a lot of time and resources trying to improve attendance levels. The staff worked hard to create an appealing curriculum and a welcoming environment, so the children would look forward to coming to school. They even introduced a Forest School, which the children loved. But nothing seemed to be working, and whole school attendance levels stayed stubbornly low.
“Each week we would review our strategies and data at the SLT meeting and just think “What aren’t we doing? What are we missing here?”.” James Hitchens says. “We’d done parental incentives, child incentives, looking at changing our attendance goals from termly 100% to 97% across the whole year. But something wasn’t clicking. We had to do something about it.”
Using Peninsula Education’s bespoke support to reduce persistent absence, and increase pupil attainment and wellbeing
Tracy identified a number of key strategies and supported staff in applying them. These included implementing their Attendance Policy more rigorously; building links with parents to help them understand the importance of high attendance; and identifying the barriers to attendance for headline attendance concerns.
Engaged parents, happy students, and a 50% drop in persistent absence
After working with Peninsula Education for two years, Penryn Primary saw a dramatic improvement in their attendance ratings. At the end of the 2019/20 year they recorded a persistent absence level of 8.9%* – more than half the level recorded in 2018. What’s more, whole school attendance had risen to 96.3%* – putting the school above both national and local averages.
But the most significant change has been the school’s relationship with the parents. With better communication comes earlier intervention. And the school now offers extra support – such as referring to the Early Help Service or providing parenting support – removing the barriers that often stop parents from sending their children to school. The staff even introduced a minibus to collect the biggest headline concerns and bring them to school each morning.
*with Covid markers removed.
More Good News
Happy children, happy teachers
As a result of the increased attendance, Penryn Primary has reported improved internal data across all subjects, with above-average phonics scores of 93%-94%. Pupil morale is also up, with 97% of parents reporting their children look forward to coming to school.
Speaking about how Peninsula Education’s support has helped him as Headteacher, James Hitchens says, “It’s one less thing to worry about. It’s a massive thing to feel you’re not on your own. You’ve got the backing of a knowledgeable person who’s at the forefront of their field – who’s really, really supportive. It means a lot”.