Closing the Attainment Gap - Better Attendance, Better Attainment.

Perhaps the most important key to closing the attainment gap is attendance. Youngsters who struggle with school tend to be youngsters whose parents do not fully comprehend the importance of their role in their child's education. Such parents tend not to sit with their children and read, or support them with other homework. Sometimes because of a lack of confidence in their own skills. Often, as children grow older and find the work more challenging, they resist school and their attendance rate falls. Teachers are very skilled in supporting youngsters with their learning (and in reducing barriers to learning through GIRFEC and multi agency working), but all the support in the world counts for nothing if youngsters don't attend school to gain the benefit of that support. We need to get them through the door. Parents (corporate parents included) are key to this. Most parents understand that attendance is important and insist that their child does their homework and attends well. However, it is important to reach the parents who fail, or don't have the skills, to support their child with schoolwork at home. Such youngsters need time in school even more if we are ever to close the gap and break the cycle. I'm proposing that we try to reach all parents from all backgrounds and encourage them to get their youngsters into school every day. An advertising campaign would help parents to open discussions with their children, particularly as they get older. It could also advise them how to get help in getting their child to school. I'm a Depute Head at a city secondary school. I see first hand how youngsters who struggle with school avoid us in spite of the range of support available to them. The nearer the exam period or assessments, the more youngsters avoid school. When the going gets tough, youngsters who find learning a challenge avoid school. If we can get them into school, we can get them through to positive destinations. Parents are key and we need to get the message out there in a very overt way. I'm passionate about helping young people and a Scotland wide message would help all of our young people.

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