A unique initiative featuring a cartoon ant is helping boost attendance at a South Pembrokeshire primary school.
Antony the Attendance Ant has proved so successful in motivating children at Pembroke Dock Community School that his role is to be extended to other schools in the area.
The cartoon figure, which was chosen to represent the ant-like qualities of teamwork and hard work, as well as a community approach to achieving goals, was adopted in October.
Since then school attendance has risen by 1.5% this term.
A celebratory assembly was held this week to mark the achievement at which Councillor Huw George, Cabinet Member for Education presented attendance medals to the pupils.
"Antony the Ant has really inspired the children," said Councillor George.
"The boost in attendance is a massive achievement, which also reflects the hard work and motivation of the staff," he said.
"It's also worth mentioning that 60 of the children had an attendance record of 100%, which was a really good example for their fellow pupils."
Antony the Ant was created earlier this term following the setting up of Working Party by headteacher Michele Thomas to look at ways of improving school attendance.
With the help of Pupil Support Officer Caroline Bullock and Specialist Primary School Youth Worker Damian Golden, the working party came up with the idea of Antony the Attendance Ant.
Adopting the theme of Reaching for the Stars, the team worked with parents and pupils- and the wider community - to boost school attendance.
"Each class was given their current attendance figures up to the October half term and then set a new target to reach by Christmas with progress measured by an Ant email to pupils from Antony," said Damian Golden.
"Pupils were asked what they liked and disliked about coming to school, while the importance of education and working hard was emphasised to both them and their parents."
Caroline Bullock added: "We're very proud of the children's achievements."
Headteacher Michele Thomas thanked parents who had backed the initiative.
"They have been absolutely wonderful in the support they have given the school in this initiative and I hope that the improved attendance rates continue to grow," she said.
The scheme, which will be extended to other schools in the Pembroke and Milford Haven areas, has also had the support of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, who sent pupils a personal Good Luck card.
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