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Dorset CChildren and young people will get the support they need to get the most enjoyment from their educational experience and improve their life opportunities following the launch of a new attendance strategy, says Dorset Council.

The new strategy, which will be implemented during this year and next, sets out to achieve the best attendance and raise the hopes and ambitions of the county’s children and young people through a community partnership approach.

The vision for the new strategy is ‘attendance is everyone’s business’. The council says it will be achieved by the community working closely and positively together, and with everybody taking responsibility to support children to be safe in school. Everybody in the community will be able to be involved in making the strategy work, it says; from school staff, parents and carers to local shop owners and GP surgeries.

The vision also highlights ‘preparing our young people for adulthood’ and ‘experiencing the best possible health and well-being’ as important objectives. There will be a particular focus on children and young people in the secondary/upper phase of their education and children in receipt of free school meals.

The council says there will also be recognition when children have distinctive medical needs, to ensure their right to an education is met in partnership with education settings, health partners and families, by considering the unique needs of that child.

Good attendance is of vital importance to the Dorset community, says the authority.  It has been shown that there is a clear link between high attendance and educational attainment, leading to better life opportunities and the best results that an individual can achieve. There are also other benefits to young people’s well-being such as nurturing long-lasting friendships, engaging in new activities and enabling young people to be able to develop in a supportive environment.

After ‘thorough consultation’ the council’s attendance strategy has identified five key priority action areas of work which are:

1) Consistent Dorset-wide policy and practice
2) Knowledge sharing and communication
3) Early identification and targeted intervention
4) Consistent approach to transition (moving to a new school)
5) Transport

This new attendance strategy work is already underway and will be bolstered by a communications campaign designed to reach everyone who can help, says the council.

Councillor Andrew Parry, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Early Help said: ‘I’m really pleased that we have this important new plan so that we can work together across Dorset to improve attendance and ensure our children can receive the best start in their lives.’

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