As children and young people prepare to return to school after the summer break, Argyll and Bute Council has launched a new campaign to highlight the importance of attending school.
The campaign comes following a drop in school attendance rates across Scotland over the last few years and aims to raise awareness of the benefits that school provides and the support available for anyone struggling.
Not only does school help children and young people to learn, but it also helps them to develop a range of important life skills that will benefit them in their adult life and the world of work. Regular attendance enables children to sustain relationships with peers and adults in school, keep up with their learning, and feel connected to their school community. Attending school also helps their wider achievement and promotes positive health and wellbeing.
When a child or young person is persistently absent, they miss out on learning, which can cause them to develop negative feelings about attending school and their ability to cope or catch up. Because they are not seeing their peers regularly, they may also feel less secure or confident in their friendships, which may become another reason to avoid school. If this does happen, keep in touch with your child’s school: they can work with you to overcome barriers and support your child’s attendance.
The Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “A drop in school attendance rates is something that’s being experienced by local authorities across the country and Argyll and Bute is no exception.
“I know lots of people take their children out of school during term time when holiday prices are lower but I would really encourage those who can, to book family holidays outwith term time. I do understand, however, that for some parents this is unavoidable and they have to take their children out of school due to their work commitments, for example, people serving in the forces.
“I’m also aware that some children and young people feel anxious about going to school too, especially after lockdown, but there is so much support available, for both them and their parents. While it can be hard as a parent to see your child experience these feelings, supporting children to learn to deal with their worries helps them develop resilience and confidence in their ability to cope, which benefits them throughout their life. No child or young person should have to miss out on their education because they are struggling, and we have a huge support network to help.
“The last thing we want to do is give a lecture about school attendance, but it’s vital that children and young people are given every opportunity to attend school, not just for their learning and education, but for their positive mental health and wellbeing.”
The council’s Education Service is undertaking a lot of work to support all children and young people to attend school as regularly as possible, and is working in close collaboration with other services.
The council’s Educational Psychology Service has also created a training and resource package for Addressing Non-Attendance. The council has been piloted this across a number of secondary schools and their school communities, and plans are progressing to roll it out to all schools as a key service priority.
The council is keen to listen to the views and experiences of children and young people, parents, school staff and partner agencies, and will shortly be inviting parents, carers and young people to share their views on preventing and reducing non-attendance by completing a short survey. The local authority has issued parents, carers and pupils with a link to the survey via email.