Good attendance is so important. Even missing one day of school can have a significant impact on a child’s learning. The school day is structured so that learning starts from the minute pupils walk through the door, and we love pupils to be on time and learning with us every day.
Mrs Whitehall, our head of school, leads our improving attendance and punctuality strategy.
Mrs Whitby, our Learning Mentor, makes referrals to local authority for penalty notices and cases of persistent unexplained absence
Unfortunately, during the last two academic years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of pupils taking holiday during term time. Senior leaders and governors have concerns about all extended absences, not least in the detriment effect on pupil wellbeing in school and the impact on progress. No term time holidays are authorised and all unauthorised absences that qualify are referred for penalty notice.
What should I do if my child is too unwell to attend school?
Telephone school (telephones usually manned from 7:30 a.m.) to record that your child will be absent from school.
If the absence continues it is important that you keep in touch with school – ringing every day if possible.
What is an acceptable level of attendance?
We monitor all pupils whose attendance falls below 97%.
Can I request access to my child’s attendance record?
School uses SIMS information management system on which all attendance is recorded. Parents are welcome to see all attendance records for their child. All parents are issued written attendance letters termly as a part of the end of term short or long report.
What is my child’s attendance falls below the accepted level 97%?
The attendance team review attendance on a daily, weekly and three weekly basis. Where attendance falls below 97% we will:
(a) Write to the parents of the children concerned outlining the concerns.
(b) Consider what response or action is required / appropriate – this will vary depending on the individual attendance levels.
(c) Meet with the parents of children concerned to identify any support that may be necessary or needed.
(d) Monitor attendance closely.
Parents, in the first instance, are usually asked to attend a school attendance panel (SAP) meeting with Mrs Whitehall. This is an opportunity to discuss any family or home issues that are affecting school attendance. There is an expectation after this meeting that attendance will significantly improve.
What sort of action or response will the headteacher take?
The headteacher will use a range of legal powers to improve attendance.
These can include:
- Requiring the appearance of parents at a meeting with governors.
- Requiring the appearance of parents at a Local Authority attendance panel.
- Fining parents for poor attendance – this will be set at £60 if paid within 28 days or £120 if paid within 42 days.
- Court issued Parenting Orders.
- Referral to Social Care – non-attendance can be seen as neglect.
What sort of absence would be acceptable?
In law, it is only the headteacher who can accept or reject a reason provided for an absence. The sort of reasons that may be acceptable would include sickness, hospitalisation, religious observance and medical appointments (BUT only if they can’t be taken outside of school hours).
However – some absences may still be deemed as unacceptable if the level of attendance is causing concern overall.
What sort of absence will NOT be acceptable?
The sort of absence that would not be acceptable would include: birthdays, buying clothing, parent appointments, going overseas to visit relatives or to undertake an appointment, taking holidays in term time, late night the night before.
If my child needs to be absent necessarily, what should I do?
If your child needs to be absent necessarily, the absence MUST be applied for BEFORE the absence takes place. Parents will need to provide the school with evidence of the necessity of the absence. The sort of evidence might include appointment cards or prescriptions.
Is it true that the headteacher can no longer authorise holidays during term time?
Yes, unless there are very exceptional circumstances. It is only the headteacher that can define what ‘exceptional’ is. However, these circumstances would be VERY rare. As a rule, requests will be refused.
What if I don’t get permission from the school for an absence (such as a holiday) but choose to go anyway?
Then a fixed penalty may be issued. These will be set at £60 if paid within 28 days or £120 if paid within 42 days. Fixed penalties for attendance can only be issued by the Headteacher, the Local Authority or Police. The penalties will apply to each child and each parent will be issued separately.
i.e. 2 children taking holiday will equal a £60 penalty each and per parent = £240 penalty for the family
How will school registers record absence in future?
On each occasion when the register is taken, the school must record one of four ‘status’ codes. These are:
- Attending an Approved Educational Activity
- Unable to Attend Due To Exceptional Circumstances (only those authorised by the Headteacher)
If my child is ill, is there a recommended period of time for their absence?
Yes, the Regional Health Authority produces guidelines on whether a child should be kept off school. Copies of this guidance can be found on the school website or in the school office.
How will being late to school be treated?
There is a difference between those children who are perpetually late and those who are occasionally and unavoidably late. The headteacher is now empowered to use the fixed penalty scheme for those parents who persistently bring their child to school late without an acceptable and unavoidable reason.
This is a copy of the letter we send to parents whose child is frequently late:
You are receiving this letter because we have a concern about your child’s punctuality.
We open school doors at 8:45 a.m. and from this time until 9:00 a.m. children take part in settling activities and teachers take the class register.
At 9:00 a.m. all pupils in school take part in focused English activities.
In the foundation stage and years 1 and 2 pupils go into very small groups at 9:00 a.m. and take part in phonics and reading activities targeted at their ability. These sessions are carefully monitored and pupil progress and attainment is tracked at least termly. If pupils do not attend these sessions regularly they quickly start to fall behind their peer group and equally find it difficult to keep up in class. As you can appreciate, we cannot then run the same session for pupils who are late later in the day.
The same goes for pupils in key stage 2. Between 8:45am and 9:00 a.m. they take part in a settling in activity followed by focused English sessions. It is equally important that they don’t miss this important work.
Your child is entitled to a full education and, without the initial building blocks, will struggle both in the short term and then later down the line in their school career if they have gaps in learning.
Can I appeal against the headteacher or local authority decision to issue a fixed penalty?
No. There is no right of appeal. Parents who fail to pay within the 42 day limit may be subject to prosecution as a result.
How do I apply for absence approval?
Parents will be able to collect one from the school office. The Headteacher will review the request and parents will be notified of the decision.