Concern as more Wigan children miss school despite results not taking a hit
The Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee was addressed by officer Emlyn Wright who explained that despite education standards and results from the 2021/2022 school year meeting or exceeding that of the pre-pandemic period (2019), there was still a drop in attendance.
The absences have reduced from 98 per cent missing at least one day due to Covid in 2020/2021 to 34.3 per cent in spring and summer this year, Wigan Town Hall was told.
The average attendance this academic year was 88.13 per cent which is a drop from the previous year (2021) at 95.2 per cent.
Persistent absence is on the up this year (2022) also, with 29.56 per cent missing at least 19 school days compared to 8.1 per cent of children last year.
Schools rated by Ofsted as "inadequate” were bigger culprits of this than “requires improvement”, “good” and “outstanding2 schools, with 30 per cent persistently absent compared to 28 per cent, 23 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.
However, it was the 75 children ‘missing from education’ that concerned Coun Sheila Ramsdale. She addressed the officer with her question.
“It is alarming that 75 children are missing from education,” she said. “So many children are not getting education and what are we doing about that?”
Mr Wright explained that there are teams monitoring this but this number could include children who have been assigned a school but have moved out of the area.
He added that actions are taken to bring some students back into school where possible.
Colette Dutton, director of children’s services, explained that sometimes in the cases of these children there are safeguarding concerns to consider which means it is not always easy to bring them back into full-time education.
Additionally, 344 children are currently being educated from home, with 160 of them starting that this year. Likely causes of that are disruption to the education system during the coronavirus lockdown, Wigan Town Hall heard.
Another increase since the pandemic includes the number of children on free school meals in Wigan, the committee heard.