Wednesday 8th March 2017.
Dear Parents / Carers,
Attendance and Persistent Absenteeism
I am writing to all parents about the new the expectations for school attendance and the revised definition of persistent absenteeism. We regard good attendance and punctuality as vital to ensure that children reach their full potential. With this in mind, I want to make you aware of our procedures, that are common to all Local Authority schools, in light of those higher expectations.
The Department for Education and OFSETD have again “raised the bar” with regard to school attendance. In light of the information above, we will be writing to the parents of all children whose attendance is 91% or below, supplying then with their child’s attendance certificate. This is to raise awareness of the fact that their child is or is potentially regarded by the authorities as a persistent absentee (and will, therefore be subject to daily monitoring and a fist day response call if no reason is given for absence). This will include families who have been working with school and whose attendance has improved - to be fair to all - who now find themselves in this category – we do appreciate your efforts! With this in mind, we are repeating important information from a previous newsletter.
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 at least 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.
Any authorised holidays and absences still count as absence and will have an impact on your child’s status and the attendance figures for the school.
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.
I hope that you appreciate my reasons for writing to you about the new expectations which are common to all schools and would encourage you keep any absence from school to an absolute minimum in the interests of your child’s education.