An exciting challenge to increase school attendance in the Rhondda Fach has seen plenty of dedicated pupils winning top prizes!
Organised by Rhondda Housing Association with the support of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Attendance and Wellbeing Service, the “Attendance Challenge” was introduced recently for pupils in years one to six across Ferndale Comprehensive’s feeder primary schools.
Its purpose is to reward pupils for excellent attendance and there are plenty of prizes involved for the pupils, their families and their school too!
All six primary schools have been involved in the challenge which offers a wide variety of prizes including a family holiday.
Lesley Davies, Chief Executive of Rhondda Housing Association explained, “We are passionate to sustain the communities our customers live in. We wanted to be proactive and work with children at a young age to help increase their educational achievement.
“There is a known link between attendance and educational achievement that paves the way for future employment . The increase in attendance we have seen to date is really positive and we are very pleased to be involved in this initiative. We would like to thank Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and schools for their support”.
There was an individual prize for 100% attenders with a draw for Argos vouchers worth £50 for each school, these have already been awarded.
The most improved pupils will be entered into a draw to win a DSi games console; the highest attenders (over 95% and above) will be entered in to a family holiday draw worth £500. This will take place at the end of the school term in July. At the end of each term the primary school that has improved the most on last year’s attendance will also receive £300 for an end-of-year party.
Rhondda Housing Association as a socially responsible business decided to organise the competition because the Ferndale Cluster includes the largest percentage of its tenants and properties and we used a specific budget designed to support community initiatives.
Beverley Wheeler, Community Development Manager of Rhondda Housing Association worked in partnership with Victoria Weston, the Council’s School Attendance Officer for the Ferndale cluster and Sarah Thomas to launch the initiative.
Together they felt that raising school attendance was an ideal opportunity to introduce a competition which would benefit local education standards and involve the children and their parents.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, Cllr Eudine Hanagan said: “We are very grateful to Rhondda Housing Association for launching such a first-class initiative aimed at raising attendance levels throughout the upper Rhondda Fach.
“We want to provide children in the County Borough with an educational experience that enables them to make the most of the opportunities available to them in adulthood. Tackling truancy and pupil absence is a key part of this.
“The impact of a good education on a community is profound. There is a strong connection between illiteracy and social exclusion for young people and adults. By working with schools, governing bodies and head teachers we will ensure resources available are used to the very best effect to deliver an excellent learning experience in Rhondda Cynon Taf.”
Poor attendance can have huge implications on a child’s education and parents can be summoned to court and face fines of up to £1,000 for allowing this to happen.
Officers take a multi-agency approach when working with local PCSO’s from South Wales Police, Communities First, Health Clinics, Magistrates’ Courts and GP Surgeries to combat the problems.
Tackling school attendance is part of the pioneering and robust plans to make major improvements in schools throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf.