Recommendations to help improve school attendance across Knowsley, and reduce the number of young people who leave school and are not in education, employment or training, will be put to the council’s Cabinet next week.
It follows an in-depth review into the issues of school absenteeism in the borough carried out by the Children’s Scrutiny Committee. Levels of young people who are classified as ‘NEET’ (not in education, employment or training) were also explored as part of the same process.
Good practice is happening
The scrutiny process identified a number of successful projects that are happening across the borough, including at Lord Derby Academy, where a project to focus on the promotion of good mental health for pupils is helping to drive down absenteeism; and a project delivered by Centre 63 to get NEET young people into work, education or training, which has an impressive 93% success rate. It recommended that these types of project should be implemented more widely across the borough, with better communication and co-operation between the various providers to share best practice.
It also looked at how better communication of health guidelines to both parents and schools could help to increase the number of unnecessary absences from school, by setting our clearly at what point pupils should return to school following common illnesses, or when they don’t need to be absent at all.
Closer working with schools to prevent young people from becoming ‘NEET’
With the work of the council’s 14-19 team proving to be a useful tool to reduce the rate of children who go on to become NEET, Scrutiny recommended that all secondary schools in Knowsley should be encouraged to work closely with this team and that there should be better long-term tracking of pupils, especially those at risk of becoming NEET after leaving school.
The report also recommends closer working with businesses in the borough to offer NEET young people a route into a career, as part of their own social value and corporate social responsibility priorities.
The causes are complex
The report also recognises that the reasons for young people becoming NEET are complex and based on the circumstances of each individual young person. The causes can relate to issues such as challenging home environments or specific health related issues, and very often the young people face a number of complex issues simultaneously – therefore there are no easy or quick solutions.
An important priority
Cllr Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services in Knowsley, said:
“We do recognise that rates of school absence and the number of young people not in education, employment or training is too high in Knowsley at the moment, and that this is an important priority for us.
“We want to give our young people the very best start in life and we know that good attendance at school is essential if they are to go on to fulfil their potential afterwards.
“We know that there is already a lot of positive work taking place across the borough to address these issues. But it’s a mark of how seriously the council takes this that such an in-depth report has now been produced by the Children’s Scrutiny Committee to make recommendations on how best we can make more progress on this.”