St Mary & All Saints aims to maximise attendance rates in order to ensure that all pupils are able to take the fullest advantage of the learning experiences available to them.
Statutory Framework successful
Under Section 199 of the 1993 Education Act, a pupil is required to attend regularly at the school where he/she is a registered pupil.
The school is obliged by law to differentiate between authorised and unauthorised absence. A letter or telephone message from a parent does not in itself authorise an absence. Only if the school is satisfied as to the validity of the explanation offered by the letter/message will the absence be authorised (see below).
Rights & Responsibilities
Improving attendance at St Mary & All Saints is the responsibility of everyone in the school community, including pupils, parents, governors and staff.
All pupils are expected to attend school and all of their lessons regularly and punctually. Pupils who experience attendance difficulties will be offered prompt and sympathetic support, initially from the teacher and the Headteacher. Periodically throughout the year and at the end of each year, pupils whose attendance is either very good or improved will be recognised and praised.
The Home/School Agreement states that:-
Parents are responsible for ensuring that their child attends school regularly, punctually, properly dressed and equipped and in a fit condition to learn. If a child is prevented for any reason from attending, or is late, parents are requested to notify the school as soon as possible in writing. A telephone call on the day is a useful means of informing the school, but this must be followed up by a written note. A pupil’s absence from school must be considered as unauthorised until a satisfactory explanation is forthcoming from the parents.
Parents will be informed promptly of any concerns that may arise over a child’s attendance. At the end of each term the Headteacher will write to parents whose child’s attendance is a cause for concern. If possible, parents should avoid making medical/ dental appointments for their child during school hours. Parents whose first language is not English, or who have literacy difficulties, will be offered appropriate support from the school in matters of communication.
Staff will endeavour to encourage good attendance and punctuality through personal example.
The school will employ a range of strategies (see below) to encourage good attendance and punctuality, liaising closely with parents, will promptly investigate all absenteeism. Staff will respond to all absenteeism firmly and consistently.
The school day consists of two attendance sessions. Registers will be called promptly at 8.55 am and 1.00pm. If a pupil fails to arrive before the registers are closed, he/she will be marked as ‘absent’. Pupils who arrive after the registers have closed without acceptable explanation must be recorded as ‘unauthorised absence’ for that session. The class teacher will notify the Headteacher/ office as soon as possible of any absentees whose pattern of attendance is a cause for concern.
The Office staff and Headteacher will inspect all registers periodically, throughout the term to ensure that correct procedures are being followed.
Authorised/ Unauthorised Absences
The Headteacher holds the authority to decide whether an absence is authorised or not. St Mary & All Saints will decide on how an absence is to be recorded according to ‘School Attendance:
Policy and Practice on Categorisation of Absence’ (DFSE 1994) states:
Absence can be authorised if:
- The pupil was absent with leave (defined as ‘leave of absence’ granted by the Headteacher, see details below).
- The pupil was ill or prevented from attending by any unavoidable cause.
- The absence occurred on a day exclusively set aside for religious observance by the religious body to which the pupil’s parent belongs.
- The pupil is the child of a Traveller parents and the conditions as stated in paragraph 47 of the guidance are met.
- There is a family bereavement.
- The pupil is attending an approved off-site activity or is receiving special off-site tuition.
- The pupil is attending a Pupil Referral Unit.
- The pupil is participating in an approved public performance.
- The school at which the child is a registered pupil is not within walking distance of the child’s home and no suitable arrangements have been made by the LA for the following reasons:
- the child’s transport to and from school
- boarding accommodation for the child at or near the school
- enabling the child to become a registered pupil at school nearer to his/her home
Absence should be considered unauthorised if:
- No explanation is forthcoming.
- Taken as a holiday.
- The Headteacher is dissatisfied with the explanation.
- The pupil stays at home to mind the house or to look after siblings (the guidance suggests that absences in such cased should only be granted in exceptional circumstances).
- The pupil is shopping during school hours.
- The pupil is absent for unexceptional special occasions (e.g. birthday).
- The pupil is away from school on a family holiday without permission, or if the parents have failed to apply for permission in advance of the holiday and instead seek retrospective approval on return.
- Governors do not authorise a ‘Request for Holiday Leave’.
Leave of Absence
From 1 September 2013 parents/carers do not have an automatic right to take their children out of school during term time. The legislation removes the Head teacher’s ability to authorise absences for holidays. Parents must now request a ‘Leave of Absence’ and this must be for ‘exceptional circumstances’. A request for a Leave of Absence will be considered by the Head teacher if:
- an application is made in advance from the person with Parental Responsibility and with whom the child normally lives.
- the circumstances relating to the request are considered exceptional and the child(ren)’s current attendance is satisfactory.
Please note: Permission will not be granted for holidays, or immediately prior to or during assessment or examinations periods.
The application form should be submitted to the Headteacher not less than one month before the proposed period of absence. Parents are strongly advised to discuss the application with the class teacher or Headteacher before submission.
Warning: If the school refuses your request and the child is still taken out of school, this will be recorded as an unauthorised absence. A significant amount of unauthorised absence may make you liable to a Penalty Notice for each child, payable by each parent/carer, or the subject of court proceedings which could result in a fine of up to £2,500 and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 3 months.
Procedures for Following up Absences
- If a pupil is absent for more than three consecutive days without explanation, the school will contact the parents. If the absentee is a pupil about whom there are already concerns, the school will make every effort to contact the parents immediately.
- If a pupil is persistently (or intermittently) absent or late, the school will write to the parents and invite them to attend a meeting at school.
- If a pupil returns to school after a period of absence and fails to bring a note, or if the explanation offered by a note is unsatisfactory, the school will contact the parents.
- If a pupil is persistently absent, or late, and the school’s efforts to effect an improvement have been unsuccessful, the situation will be referred to the Education Welfare Officer during his/her consultation visit.
- Notes from parents will be initialled by the class teacher and kept in a separate file in the school office. All telephone messages regarding absence/lateness are to be recorded on the Late Arrivals Form.
Strategies for Promoting Attendance
St Mary and All Saints School will work to provide an environment in which pupils feel valued and welcomed, that pupils feel their presence in school is important, that they will be missed when they are absent/late and that follow up action will be taken.
- A varied and flexible curriculum will be offered to meet pupils’ needs. Every effort will be made to ensure that learning tasks are matched to pupils’ needs.
- Attendance data will be regularly collected and analysed in order to help identify patterns, correlate attendance with achievement, set targets, and support and inform policy/practice.
- Good attendance will be recognised periodically throughout the term/year and when relevant to promote good attendance.
- Pupils whose attendance is a cause for concern will be set targets for improvement. The class teacher will monitor and review these targets.
- Parents will be reminded regularly via newsletters, the school brochure, parent’s evenings etc of the importance of good attendance.
- Pupils who are absent through sickness for any extended periods will, when appropriate, have work sent home to them and will be given suitable support upon their return to school.
- Pupils who have been absent for whatever reason for an extended period will, when appropriate, have individually tailored reintegration programmes prepared for them.
- The Headteacher will make an annual report to the school’s Governing Body on attendance matters.
- The Headteacher will, when appropriate, liaise with other agencies – when this may serve to support and assist pupils who are experiencing attendance difficulties.
- The Headteacher will inform the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) of those pupils who are causes for concern. Together they will identify and support these pupils who are experiencing non-attendance difficulties as follows:
- Following a referral to the Education Welfare Service (EWS) a pre-arranged visit will be made by the EWO to the parent/carer or an in-school meeting agreed with school and parent. At this meeting, with the agreement of the parent, a Parenting Contract may be drawn up, unless absence is due to factors outside EWS criteria.
The Parenting Contract will be drawn up and implemented in accordance with the Buckinghamshire Code of Conduct for the Implementation of Parenting Contracts, Parenting Orders & Penalty Notices Guidance-Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 section 23.