Thank you for helping your child to attend school regularly and on time. Our attendance figures are generally good and have improved over recent years with persistent absenteeism becoming increasingly rare.
Good attendance and punctuality is an important issue for our school as it is for all schools. The minimum national expectation is that each child should attend school for 93% of the year. In practice, we want all of our children to attend every day except:-
1. In cases of serious illness when to attend school would be of no benefit to them, would slow their recovery and potentially spread infection to others.
School is happy to advise on NHS recommendations regarding school attendance for a variety of illnesses and conditions – You may be surprised that few conditions necessitate absence from school and, where absence is necessary, the recommended periods of exclusion are often quite short.
2. Within 48 hours of the last episode of vomiting or diarrhoea.
Attendance is monitored regularly and a report is generated every half-term for all pupils. This report is shared with staff and, where appropriate, the Local Authority Attendance and welfare Service. Where a child is absent for more than 10% of their possible schooling (persistent absenteeism), or where there are concerns raised by staff about the frequency and / or patterns of absence, school will write to parents to make them aware of our concerns. The attendance of those children will be monitored. If concerns remain, we have a duty to escalate the matter to the Local Authority Attendance and Welfare Service who will make home visits and discuss possible further action including legal processes.
It is important to communicate with school if your child is off school sick, giving the reason for the absence. Where we are aware of genuine hardship, we will be sensitive to individual circumstances. This does not, however, remove our duty to ensure that all children receive the education to which they are entitled, a duty for which we are held to account. It is the responsibility of school either to authorise the absence or not. Term time holidays will not usually be authorised, except in exceptional circumstances. As well as missing out on their education, frequent absence may also indicate safeguarding issues and may result in a referral to Social Care, highlighting possible child protection concerns.
The following information comes from our Attendance Policy:
Shoreside Primary School
“Working Together to Achieve High Standards”
Statement of aims and objectives:-
Shoreside Primary School believes that all pupils benefit from the education we provide, and therefore from regular school attendance. In order to achieve this we will take appropriate action to ensure that all pupils achieve the maximum possible attendance and that any problems, which may affect full attendance, are acted on as quickly as possible.
Shoreside Primary School aims to work with parents to ensure that all pupils attend school regularly and on time. Helping to promote a pattern of regular attendance is everybody’s responsibility: parents, pupils and all members of school staff.
Mrs Finch / Mrs Kennedy (first day response and initial telephone call to parents of absent pupil)
Mr Thomas (monitors attendance on a daily, weekly and half-termly weekly basis & referrals to local authority for penalty notices and cases of persistent unexplained absence).
Jane Shaw (Local Authority Attendance and Welfare Officer – Review attendance regularly with Mr. Thomas and will make home visits and enact Local Authority procedures).
What must I do if my child is too unwell to attend school?
Telephone school (telephones usually manned from 8.30 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 now monitor all pupils whose attendance falls below 96%. We pay particular attention to the attendance of pupils who are classed as vulnerable – pupils with special educational needs, pupils eligible for pupil premium, looked-after children and so on.
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 whose child’s attendance falls below 90% (and are therefore deemed by law to be persistent absentees) are issued written attendance letters to inform them of school’s concerns.
What if my child’s attendance falls below the accepted level 96%?
The headtecher monitors attendance on a daily, weekly and half-termly basis. Where attendance falls below 96% they will:
Where a family does not inform school of an absence and no response is made to a school contact, this may trigger an intervention by the Attendance and Welfare Officer and / or a referral to Social services.
What sort of action or response will the headteacher take?
The headteacher will use a range of legal powers, in accordance with Local Authority procedures, to improve attendance.
These can include:
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 and needing to sleep-in..
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:
Please note that even authorised absences are absences and count against your child and the school.
If my child is ill, is there a recommended period of time for their absence?
Yes, the Regional Health Authority produces guidelines on whether or not a child should be kept off school. Information about absence periods from school can be obtained from 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. The responsibility for bringing a child to school on time rests with the parent. By being even a few minutes late the child could cause disruption to the class and will miss out on educational activities eg, phonic teaching, guided reading that it will be difficult to compensate for later on in the day.
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 download a form from the school website or collect one from the school office. The Headteacher will review the request and parents will be notified of her decision.
Rewards for Good Attendance
We will award certificates every half-term to those pupils who achieve: 100% attendance (Gold), 96% and above attendance (Silver) and “Most Improved” (Bronze). We will also award good attendance by individual classes on a weekly and half termly basis by the award of a trophy and non-uniform days.
This is to recognise the commitment to achieving good school attendance by pupils and families, whilst allowing for legitimate absences of the types outlined above.
Family Holidays in term time
Regulation 7 of the 2006 Regulations removes references to family holiday and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days. The amendments make clear that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. Headteachers should determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if the leave is granted.
Appendix 2 The Legal Foundation of this policy is found in Education Act 1996
The legal framework governing attendance is set by the Education Acts and their associated regulations. Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that: The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him/her to receive efficient, full time education suitable to his/her age, aptitude and ability and to any special educational needs he/she may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. Section 444 further states that: The parent of a child of compulsory school age registered at school and failing to attend regularly is guilty of an offence punishable by law. An offence is not committed if it can be demonstrated that:
the pupil was absent with leave agreed by school staff; (authorised absence)
the pupil was ill or prevented from attending by any unavoidable cause;
the absence was on a day exclusively set aside for religious observance by the religious body to which the parent belongs;
the school is not within walking distance of the child's home and the LA has made no suitable arrangements for: ¾ the child's transport to and from school; ("walking distance" is defined in section 444(5) of the Education Act 1996).
The term ‘parent’ refers to one parent, both parents or the child’s carer.
Under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996, the parent is responsible for making sure that their child of compulsory school age receives efficient full-time education that is suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have. This can be by regular attendance at school or by education otherwise ( the parent can elect to educate their child at home).
*The expression “parent”, in relation to a child or young person, includes any person who is not a parent of the child but who has parental responsibility for him or her, or who has the day to day care of the child.
Compulsory school age is defined as beginning from age five when a child should attend school from the start of the term commencing on or after his fifth birthday. A child continues to be of compulsory school age until the last Friday of June in the school year that they reach sixteen.
Legal Enforcement by Sefton Council
Education Supervision Orders The local authority must consider applying for an Education Supervision Order (ESO) before prosecuting parents. A local authority may apply for an ESO instead of or as well as prosecuting parents. The order is placed on the child and the local authority is appointed by the court to supervise that child’s education either at a school or at home for a specified period of time.
Section 444(A) of the Education Act 1996 empowers the local authority to issue Penalty Notices for failure to ensure regular school attendance. Parents or carers who take their children out of school without school’s permission or are late returning from a leave of absence that has been granted during term time as there are exceptional circumstances, may receive a Penalty Notice fine of £60 per parent per child, which must be paid within 21 days . If payment is made after 21 days but within 28 days, the penalty is increased to £120. Where a fine remains unpaid after 28 days, the matter will be referred to the Attendance and Welfare Service , who will consider instigating criminal proceedings. Please note that Penalty Notices can be issued after 12 unauthorised absences in a term or 20 in two consecutive terms. . Children who are late without good reason after registration closes also receive an unauthorised absence mark.
The Education (Penalty Notices) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 sets out the details of how the penalty notice scheme must operate. Sefton Council Code of Conduct for issuing penalty notices will be made available for schools, parents/carers and other interested parties.
The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 currently allow headteachers to grant leave of absence for the purpose of a family holiday during term time in “special circumstances” of up to ten school days leave per year. Headteachers can also grant extended leave for more than ten school days in exceptional circumstances.
Amendments to the 2006 regulations remove references to family holiday and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days. The amendments make clear that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. Headteachers should determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if the leave is granted.
Sefton Council will also be conducting Pre Court Panel meetings in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act 1984.