Can it be as easy as ABC?

31st January 1997 at 00:00
A Glasgow secondary is following the lead of Safeway and issuing its own ABC loyalty cards to pupils. ABC in this case stands for attendance, behaviour and co-operation, and is the latest anti-truancy strategy at Bellarmine Roman Catholic Secondary in Pollok.

Moira Johnston, Bellarmine's assistant head, says: "Every child can get 10 points in the case of two weeks' perfect attendance, and there are bonus points for good behaviour. Once they get to 100 points they can have a free swim at Pollok Leisure Centre."

The incentive system has been developed with the local education business partnership and there are plans for pupils to earn free visits to the cinema or ice-rink. The scheme only applies to the first and second years, but older pupils are clamouring to take part and the school will probably extend it.

Tom MacDonald, the depute head, said the plan is to introduce silver and gold cards for pupils with 250 and 500 points. "We think it is a scheme that will pick up on casual non-attendance by the child who takes the occasional day off. It will give them an incentive to come into school."

Bellarmine, which has a roll of 531, employs a battery of measures including community involvement, a home-school partnership and what it believes is an effective registration system.

Ms Johnston said: "We have to use any help we can get from the whole area and involve as many agencies as we can. One example was to involve the community in looking at school non-attendance as socially unacceptable, trying to get across the message that it was something to be ashamed of to allow your child not to come to school. It did have an effect.

"People in the area were stopping children to ask them why they were not at school. It raised awareness of the problem."

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