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ABOVE IMAGE: Children’s Year of Safety banner with: Coun Adrian Farley, Mrs Heathcote (headteacher at Merlin Top Academy), Mr Devlin (executive headteacher of Our Lady of Victories); Mrs Nove (headteacher of Laycock Primary School)

A campaign to get kids to bed by 8pm has increased school attendance.

The pioneering scheme at three Keighley primary schools has also seen a fall in non-attendance.

Headteachers s at Merlin Top Academy, Our Lady of Victories RC Primary School and Laycock Primary School, have hailed the initiative for the Children’s Year of Safety as a success.
The Children’s Year of Safety launched in the Braithwaite and Guardhouse area in September. It is supported by a range of statutory and local and voluntary organisations including the three schools, churches and children’s centres, the Council and police. It focuses on a number of ways parents can support their local school and keep their children safe.

The themes for the autumn term were ‘Come to School Every Day and On Time’ and ‘After Eight is Way too Late’. The themes stress the importance of attendance and getting sleep so that children can get up on time and be alert during the day. 

Merlin Top Academy, Our Lady of Victories RC Primary School and Laycock Primary School led the campaign.

A range of activities have encouraged families to get primary aged children to bed by 8pm for a good night’s sleep so they can have a better day at school. 

At Merlin Top Academy, children did a whole week’s activity on bedtime, including storytelling, telling the time, and had a bed “installation” in the school entrance.. The bed was then raffled-off among parents as a way of engaging families. As a result, attendance at Merlin Top Academy has increased from last year and unauthorised absences have halved. Braithwaite New Church made a donation towards materials for Merlin Top, while materials to support activities in the other schools were kindly provided by Damart.

The themes for the spring term are ‘Keep Safe Online’ and ‘Speak Out, Stay Safe’ and the themes for the summer term are ‘Road Safety’ and ‘Play Safe in the Holidays’.

Lesley Heathcote, headteacher at Merlin Top Academy, said: “Children and families have really embraced the theme of Come to School Every Day and On Time. We’ve seen a dramatic improvement in attendance which has gone up from 95.15 percent to 96.88 percent while persistent absence has fallen from 17.87 percent to 9.35 percent.”

John Devlin, executive headteacher at Our Lady of Victories RC Primary School, said: “The campaign is having a great effect on our attendance, it is currently 96.9 percent and this up on last years at this point.”

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ABOVE IMAGE: Children with pillow cases donated by Damart, Bingley, from left: Ramani Chadwick (Our Lady of Victories Primary), Francesca Holgate (Laycock Primary), Bethany Holmes (Merlin Top Academy), Teagan Atkinson (Laycock Primary), Daniel Burns (Our Lady of Victories Primary) and below Zain Isaq (Merlin Top Academy).

Juliet Nove, headteacher at Laycock Primary School, said: “This is a really imaginative way of engaging children and families on the importance of sleep and not missing school. Our attendance has gone from 95.7 percent to 96.73 percent and persistent absence has fallen from 16.5 percent to 10.2 percent which is brilliant news!”

Coun Adrian Farley, said: “The campaign is a great way of engaging families and children in doing simple things that will make a big difference to children’s safety and to how well they do at school. We’re delighted that the campaign is making a real difference to school attendance.”

Coun Val Slater, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “Keeping children safe is everybody’s responsibility, so it’s great news that the Children’s Year of Safety is making a positive difference to children’s lives.”

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