A school in North Wales is offering the incentive of a family holiday to pupils in an attempt to stop them from skipping lessons.
Rhyl High School has come up with the idea in an effort to reduce truancy by offering a holiday for 6 people to the Isle of White as a prize, and the school has already accredited the rise in attendance figures to the new competition.
Around 94% of pupils at the secondary school in Denbighshire now attend regular lessons as opposed to just 80% before the incentive was launched.
The holiday is not coming out of school funds; it has been donated by a pupil’s family and is among a series of ideas implemented to encourage children to attend school. Other prizes include trips to theme parks, swimming pools and the cinema; the school also send praise postcards home each week for special achievements and have a ‘pupil of the week’ scheme.
A spokesperson for the school stated “As well as gaining house points for attendance, this year we have an added reward of a holiday in the Isle of Wight for the next summer holidays.”
After careful consideration the school decided to use the gift as an extra reward, and all the pupils with a 100% attendance record at the end of the school year will go into a draw to win the holiday.
The idea has not gone down so well with everyone though, Clwyd West Assembly Member, Darren Millar commented: “I’m pleased tax payers are not funding this sort of nonsense. It’s clear in law parents are required to send children to school. Bribery is not the best way to get children to go to school. Getting better grades and better outcomes should be the way forward.”
Rhyl High School defended their decision saying “Pupils are voting with their feet and enjoying coming to school, they are even upset if they are ill and have to go home. We recognise though that not all pupils can achieve 100% (attendance) so smaller rewards are offered throughout the year.”
There is a friendly competition spirit growing amongst the school’s four houses, Tegeingl Tigers, Foryd Falcons, Hiraddug Hawks and Morfa Magicians, with pupils looking forward to the results of attendance figures which are released to them each week.
The incentive system does not appear to be used in all schools though; pupils in neighbouring Flintshire schools have the best attendance record of schools throughout North Wales, and have had for the last four years, prompting a Flintshire council spokesperson to comment “Incentives are a matter for individual schools.”
Gwynedd council stated that 8% of pupils were absent from their schools during the 2009/2010 school year and it was their policy to work closely with pupils, welfare officers and disciplinary assistants to encourage children to attend school.
Conwy council are unaware if any attendance incentives are in operation in any of their schools.