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Torbay - Attendance figures come home to roost

Torbay council officials are to don giant chicken outfits in a drive to combat some of the South West's worst attendance rates.

The campaign, Every School Day Matters, will see attendance officers wearing the costumes at school gates. The slogan, devised by a Brixham pupil, is, "Don't check out, chick-in".

Figures show that Torbay primary and secondary youngsters missed 103,650 lessons between spring 2008 and 2009, second only to Bournemouth in the region.

Meanwhile, Torbay education bosses have launched an inquiry into school performance to discover why attendance and exam grades in the English Riviera are below the national average.

Officials from the local council say they anticipate "pressures" on budgets in the future, making work to improve schools with advisers and consultants harder. A scrutiny committee will review the situation and the quality of support available to teachers.

Children in the area achieve lower KS2 results than the national average. Another priority is improving GCSE performance: English and maths grades are an issue in local non-selective schools.

Attendance at both primary and secondary age is lower than at other schools around the UK although exclusions have fallen and only one school is in special measures.

Ruth Pentney, chair of Torbay Council's KS2 scrutiny review panel, said: "Locally and nationally, there is concern about the standard of primary education. We want to accelerate progress more rapidly and help our primary school pupils achieve better outcomes in the future.

"We also want to ensure parents, teachers, governors and children themselves have their say on what more could be done."km.

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