A PIONEERING campaign to help keep Keighley children safe has led to a massive boost in school attendance figures.

All three schools involved in the Children’s Year of Safety initiative have seen absenteeism slashed.

The venture was launched in the Braithwaite and Guard House area in September.

Themes for the autumn term have centred on the importance of attendance and getting sufficient sleep, so youngsters are alert in the classroom.

The participating schools – Merlin Top Academy and Our Lady of Victories and Laycock primaries – have been promoting the message to parents and pupils through their websites, assemblies and newsletters.

And special banners have been displayed outside each site.

A range of activities has also taken place.

At Merlin Top, the children took part in a week-long project focused on bedtime.

A bed ‘installation’ was set-up in the school entrance, and subsequently raffled off to help get families involved.

New Church at Braithwaite made a donation towards the cost of materials, and materials for activities at the other schools were provided by Damart.

Merlin Top headteacher, Lesley Heathcote, said: “Children and families have really embraced the theme.

“We’ve seen a dramatic improvement in attendance – which has gone up from 95.15 per cent to 96.88 per cent – while persistent absence has fallen from 17.87 to 9.35 per cent.”

John Devlin, executive headteacher at Our Lady of Victories, said the school had enjoyed similar success.

“The campaign is having a great effect on our attendance – it is currently 96.9 per cent, which is up on this point last year,” he added.

At Laycock Primary, attendance has risen from 95.7 to 96.73 per cent and persistent absence has dropped from 16.5 to 10.2 per cent.

Headteacher Juliet Nove described the figures as “brilliant news”.

She added: “The project is a really imaginative way of engaging children and families on the importance of sleep and not missing school.”

The theme for the spring term will be Keep Safe Online and Speak Out, Stay Safe.

In the summer, emphasis will be on road safety and playing safe during the holidays.

The campaign is supported by a number of statutory and voluntary organisations including churches, children’s centres, Bradford Council and the police.

Keighley West councillor, Adrian Farley, praises the initiative.

“The campaign is a great way of engaging families and children in doing simple things that will make a big difference to youngsters’ safety and to how well they do at school,” he said.

“We’re delighted that it is making a real difference to school attendance.”

Councillor Val Slater, the council’s 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 youngsters’ lives.”

The scheme has also included a quiz, held as part of Safeguarding Week in October.

Parents, grandparents and residents across Braithwaite and Guard House were asked about a range of topics.