Trip, trip hooray!

PUPILS from St Peter s School in Huntingdon set off on a trip to Alton Towers yesterday (Tuesday) – as a reward for turning up at school. Headteacher Val Ford announced at the beginning of the school year that she would offer an incentive for improved att

PUPILS from St Peter's School in Huntingdon set off on a trip to Alton Towers yesterday (Tuesday) - as a reward for turning up at school.

Headteacher Val Ford announced at the beginning of the school year that she would offer an incentive for improved attendance - a day at the theme park.

The story hit the headlines as far away as Japan. A Japanese TV crew was sent to the school and the offer seems to have had the desired effect.

However, not all the absentees were traditional truants. Some were young carers while others had suffered a family bereavement or were nervous about going to school.


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This week, Mrs Ford announced that attendance was the best for four years and 92 students plus six staff went to the theme park.

Of these:

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* 49 pupils who had notched up 100 per cent attendance went for free;

* 12 other pupils who had just one day off made the trip for a discount price of £15;

* Out of another 62 pupils who had over 99 per cent attendance, 28 were picked out of a hat at random and also paid £15;

* Also on board were three of the school's most improved attendees. The school's statistics show that one pupil had gone from 40 per cent attendance to 72.9 per cent.

Overall, attendance at St Peter's has improved from 90.93 per cent in the academic year 2005-2006 to 92.25 per cent for 2006-2007, hitting Government's required average of 92 per cent.

The school, which has about 1,300 pupils, is cracking down on pupils who fail to turn up or go absent without leave. Since Easter, it has employed an attendance officer, Angie Dickenson, to make sure youngsters are in school.

It is planning to extend the fence around the school to stop pupils wandering off at lunchtime and all lateness and absence will be recorded electronically from next term.

Head Val Ford told The Hunts Post: "We are delighted with our improved attendance percentage. Our total number of absentees has decreased from 10 per cent to seven per cent.

"This year we have introduced a number of different strategies to improve attendance, as well as the Alton Towers trip.

"We have an attendance officer who supports students, we have competitions between guilds (the school houses), and we have graphs displayed in classrooms.

"All staff talk regularly to students about the importance of attendance and its effect on achievement.

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