Oxford MailBid to stamp out absences (From Oxford Mail)

Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us

Bid to stamp out absences

Oxford Mail: Melinda Tilley Melinda Tilley

A SPECIALIST council team is tackling high absence rates at two city secondary schools, despite them being academies.

Oxfordshire County Council has confirmed it is sending in a school improvement officer to St Gregory the Great Catholic School, in Cricket Road, and Oxford Academy, in Sandy Lane West, Littlemore.

Both are academies and fall under the control of their sponsors – the Dominic Barberi Multi Academy Company and the Diocese of Oxford, respectively.

But Melinda Tilley, pictured, the county council’s member for education, said the council-paid officers were intervening to establish why the absence rates were so poor even though the academies could ignore their advice.

She said: “We are in a bit of a difficult position because academies don’t have to take our help or listen to us.

“We do often find they do want our advice, as they want to find out what the problem is too, but they are under no obligation now they are academies.”

Department for Education (DfE) statistics show St Gregory the Great had an absence rate of 7.1 per cent for the autumn term, making it the second worst Catholic secondary school in the country according to John Howson, the county council’s Liberal Democrat spokesman for education.

The average in the county for long-term absence – missing at least 22 sessions (half a day) of school a term – was 6.7 per cent, compared to a national picture of 5.9 per cent.

Oxford Academy, which is in special measures, had absence rates of 7.9 per cent, which Mr Howson said puts it in the bottom 150 in the country. A council officer has been helping at the school for several months.

A DfE spokesman said local authorities do retain an interest in schools and children’s welfare, but it was up to the individual academies to allow local authority visits.

He added: “Academies are held more rigorously to account than council-run schools. We have consistently demonstrated quick and decisive action if children are being denied the education they deserve – no matter what type of school they attend.”

Both schools said they are actively tackling absenteesim.

John Hussey, executive headteacher at St Gregory the Great and a director of sponsor Dominic Barberi Multi Academy Company, said he was surprised by the council’s intervention given it had been given an award by it for reducing persistent absenteeism this year.

He said the winter had higher absences due to illness – which accounted for 3.77 per cent of absences during that period.

Mr Hussey said: “We are on the case. We are going to have to give more resources into getting out there and getting them into school, but we have our budget and that has to go towards things like employing teachers.”

Niall McWilliams, principal of Oxford Academy, said: “It is improving but we know it is still not good enough. We are very conscious of it and there are strategies in place to drive absences down.”

Anne Davey, director of education for the Oxford Academy sponsor the Diocese of Oxford said: “We take attendance issues very seriously. The Governing body of the academy monitors attendance on a monthly basis and is working with the senior leadership team to address this. Next year we will have mentors working with families and students to help them understand the importance of going to school.

“Despite being an academy and therefore not maintained by the local authority, we are fortunate to have a really good working relationship and benefit from county council support in a number of areas of the school’s development.”

Mr Howson was concerned about the council stepping in with an academy, where responsibility lies with the DfE.

He said: “For a multi-academy trust to be employing an expensive executive headteacher it should really have been on top of the problem. I have asked whether Ofsted and the new Regional Schools Commissioner should intervene.

“The county council is short of money and it raises the question about who runs the schools now that they are academies. If it is the DfE then they should be spending the cash to sort it out and the county council saving its money for other things.”

AT A GLANCE

The average for long-term absence – missing at least 22 sessions
(half a day) of school a term

  • The Oxford Academy           7.9%
  • St Gregory the Great            7.1%
  • North Oxfordshire Academy  6.8%
  • Oxfordshire                         6.7%
  • Nationally                            5.9%

Our top stories:

Update: 'National Front' protest and counter-protest spark disturbance at Gloucester Green bus station

Oxford Mail:

1:32pm Saturday 26th July 2014

THREE people have been arrested after protesters clashed at Gloucester Green bus station.

Former teacher charged with historic sex abuse while working at two Oxford schools

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

11:04am Saturday 26th July 2014

A FORMER teacher has been charged with carrying out historic sex abuse while he worked at Oxford primary schools.

Mothers united in grief as killers sentenced + listen to Jayden's family's statement

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

AS THE killers of their children were sentenced in separate cases yesterday, two heartbroken mothers stopped to console each other outside Oxford Crown Court

Listen: Jayden trial: Killer Ben Blakeley gets 20-year prison sentence + Audio of the family and police statements

Oxford Mail: Jayden Parkinson

9:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

JAYDEN Parkinson’s family said justice had been done after her “sick and twisted” murderer was given a life sentence.

Jayden trial: Judge Patrick Eccles' sentencing remarks

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 26th July 2014

JUDGE Patrick Eccles' remarks when sentencing Ben Blakeley for the murder of Jayden Parkinson

Fiaz Munshi trial: Family can finally grieve at boys' graves as killer begins 13-year sentence

Oxford Mail:

8:40am Saturday 26th July 2014

THE mother of arson victims Anum and Majid Khan paid an emotional first visit to their graves yesterday as one of their killers, Fiaz Munshi, started a 13-year jail term.

Watch: Police believe National Front and anti-facism demonstrations in Oxford will be peaceful but taking precautions + video

Oxford Mail: Oxford area police commander Supt Christian Bunt

8:33am Saturday 26th July 2014

POLICE have this morning said protests by a group calling itself the National Front and anti-facism demonstrators are likely to be peaceful but they are taking precautions.

United loan stopper Long aiming to play for keeps

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Saturday 26th July 2014

George Long is looking forward to a battle with Max Crocombe to become Oxford United’s first-choice goalkeeper after joining on loan yesterday.

Mechanics help to save life of heart patient customer

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Saturday 26th July 2014

A GARAGE in Abingdon has taken customer service to the next level – they now save people’s lives.

Mother pays tribute to her ‘wonderful son’, ex-Chelsea youth footballer Jordan Tabor, after hotel death

Oxford Mail:

9:00pm Friday 25th July 2014

THE mother of former Chelsea youth player Jordan Tabor has paid tribute to her “wonderful son” after he died on holiday in Turkey on Wednesday.

Man charged with 156 offences at Witney company after police pick him up in Spain

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

4:52pm Friday 25th July 2014

A 40-year-old man arrested in Spain has been charged with 156 theft and fraud offences said to have taken place at a company in Witney. 

Red Arrows wow crowds with stunning aces high display

Oxford Mail:

7:35pm Friday 25th July 2014

SKIES across Wallingford played host to an amazing Red Arrows display.

Jayden trial: Jury fails to reach a verdict in the case of Jake Blakeley

Oxford Mail:

12:20pm Friday 25th July 2014

The jury in the Jayden Parkinson trial has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict on Jake Blakeley.

Crocombe striving to be spot-on at Oxford United

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Friday 25th July 2014

Max keeping it simple in order to impress

Comments (6)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:14am Mon 23 Jun 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Sounds like a good source of income for the council...

I wonder what the the charge-out consultancy rate is?
Sounds like a good source of income for the council... I wonder what the the charge-out consultancy rate is? Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 1

11:40am Mon 23 Jun 14

DoctorBob says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
Sounds like a good source of income for the council...

I wonder what the the charge-out consultancy rate is?
Or the Tories shoring up a failed ideological experiment at our expense.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: Sounds like a good source of income for the council... I wonder what the the charge-out consultancy rate is?[/p][/quote]Or the Tories shoring up a failed ideological experiment at our expense. DoctorBob
  • Score: 1

12:38pm Mon 23 Jun 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

DoctorBob wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
Sounds like a good source of income for the council...

I wonder what the the charge-out consultancy rate is?
Or the Tories shoring up a failed ideological experiment at our expense.
Could be worse...

Can you imagine if it was the Greens running school policy?
[quote][p][bold]DoctorBob[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: Sounds like a good source of income for the council... I wonder what the the charge-out consultancy rate is?[/p][/quote]Or the Tories shoring up a failed ideological experiment at our expense.[/p][/quote]Could be worse... Can you imagine if it was the Greens running school policy? Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

12:54pm Mon 23 Jun 14

DoctorBob says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
Sounds like a good source of income for the council...

I wonder what the the charge-out consultancy rate is?
Or the Tories shoring up a failed ideological experiment at our expense.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: Sounds like a good source of income for the council... I wonder what the the charge-out consultancy rate is?[/p][/quote]Or the Tories shoring up a failed ideological experiment at our expense. DoctorBob
  • Score: 0

12:54pm Mon 23 Jun 14

DoctorBob says...

DoctorBob wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
Sounds like a good source of income for the council...

I wonder what the the charge-out consultancy rate is?
Or the Tories shoring up a failed ideological experiment at our expense.
Whoops
[quote][p][bold]DoctorBob[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: Sounds like a good source of income for the council... I wonder what the the charge-out consultancy rate is?[/p][/quote]Or the Tories shoring up a failed ideological experiment at our expense.[/p][/quote]Whoops DoctorBob
  • Score: 0

7:25pm Mon 23 Jun 14

Christine Hovis says...

So, a LIberal Democrat is concerned that the Conservative-led council is intervening in schools that the coalition government is controling directly from Westminster. It's a funny old world.
So, a LIberal Democrat is concerned that the Conservative-led council is intervening in schools that the coalition government is controling directly from Westminster. It's a funny old world. Christine Hovis
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree