Pupils rewarded for good attendance
Fun schemes to encourage youngsters not to miss school are paying off in Swansea.
Latest figures show that primary school attendance for this academic year so far is 95.3% - which is up from 94.9 per cent for 2015/2016.
This year Swansea Council introduced its Incentivising Attendance Programme which gives all pupils with excellent or improving attendance records the chance to win prizes which are handed out at a ceremony at the end of each half-term.
Some schools are also running their own in-house rewards scheme.
Now one group of neighbouring schools has set-up an inter-school challenge with a weekly league table and the chance to win school-wide prizes at the end of the year.
Those taking part are Waun Wen, Clwyd, Gwyrosydd, Burlais, Brynhyfryd, Plasmarl and Pentrehafod.
Each school calculates its attendance data at the end of the week which is added to an attendance race board on display in their school.
The attendance is ranked with points 1 to 7 with the top three schools being placed in gold, silver or bronze position. This changes on a weekly basis depending on who scores the most points for the previous week.
Parents are encouraged to play their part in helping their school secure top spot.
It will culminate in June with an Attendance Festival for the winning gold school and the silver and bronze winners will also receive recognition with film sessions and a non-school uniform day.
Four years ago attendance at primary schools in Swansea was highlighted by the Welsh Government's school inspectorate Estyn as an area for concern.
Since then, thanks to a concerted effort by Swansea Council's Education Department working with all schools, there have been sustained and dramatic improvements.
Cllr Jennifer Raynor, Cabinet Member for Education, said: "Pupil attainment is a top priority for the council and attendance at school is the key to that.
"If our children don't go to school they can't learn and they will struggle to achieve their full potential.
"That's why the council puts so much effort into working with schools and parents to improve attendance and I would like to thank all involved for contributing to the improvements we have seen in recent years."
The new figures show attendance at Swansea's two special schools has also jumped to 92.9% this year from 91.9% last year.
Secondary schools have seen a slight drop to 94% from 94.3% in the previous year but the long-term trend still remains positive.