Penryn Primary reduced persistent absence by 50%, improved academic scores, and boosted pupil morale.

Putting whole school attendance above the national average.

School Snapshot

Summary of results

The Problem

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.”

Tracy is brilliant, friendly, knowledgeable, and incredibly responsive

Tracy is incredibly knowledgable - she’s able to really give you that concrete evidence and the letter of the law to the nth degree that you know what she says is bang on and I fully trust her.

The Solution

Using Peninsula Education’s bespoke support to reduce persistent absence, and increase pupil attainment and wellbeing

The Senior Leadership Team searched for an Education Welfare Service that could help and soon chose Peninsula Education thanks to their extensive experience, built-in flexibility, and shared values. 
“Tracy is incredibly open, transparent, supportive, and child-centred. She really cares about making a difference,” James recalls, “she cares about getting children in education – about giving them a better chance and the best opportunity to succeed”.
The team at Peninsula Education built a package that included direct support and staff training. Tracy worked closely with the school’s Attendance Officer, led half-termly attendance meetings with staff, and was on hand to advise and answer questions at all times. The team attended meetings with the parents of persistently absent pupils, drawing up plans and agreements where required. And led staff training around attendance policy, staff expectations, and the legal implications of attendance issues.

"the support is very much bespoke to our school"

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.

"Tracy has clear, effective systems in a format that can actually help us - rather than data for data’s sake"

The Results

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.

“When you sit down and talk to the parents they feel supported. From us, it’s now about “What can we do to help you?”, and they appreciate that we want the child in school - that it’s helping them learn more”

Tracy’s primary role is attendance as an EWO, so having that expert with the knowledge and experiences to call upon is invaluable to give us that objective perspective.

She’s always at the end of the phone, she’s had meetings with headline characters and she’s more than willing to do that.

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. 

“The children want to be at school - they’re happy. Their attendance is improving, their attainment’s improving, their learning behaviour’s improving, their ability to be ready for the next step of their education is improving.”

Teachers workload is reduced, as they spend less time catching pupils up. Thanks to Tracy’s training and support they also feel more confident when having conversations with parents about attendance, and know what to do when further action is required.

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”.

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