At Shepherdswell we recognise the importance of regular school attendance and believe that children can only learn effectively if they attend school every day. It is also vitally important that children arrive and leave school on time.
Responsibility of Parents/Carers
Children who are persistently late or absent soon fall behind with their learning. Children who are absent from school frequently develop large gaps in their learning which will impact on their progress and their ability to meet age related learning expectations. A child whose attendance drops to 90% each year will, over their time at primary school, have missed two whole terms of learning.
It is the parent/carers responsibility:
- To ensure that their children arrive to school on time.
- To ensure children who are late report to the school office to sign in. Records are kept of the pupils that are late with an L code in the register. Any child that arrives after 9:30am will be marked with a U code, equivalent to an unauthorised absence.
- To ensure children are collected promptly at the end of the school day and that necessary arrangements are in place for the journey home. If these differ from the child’s normal arrangements, the class teacher and school office should be made aware of this.
- The first few minutes of school is a crucial time for children to get settled into class. When a child arrives late for school, it not only disrupts the rest of the class, but they miss out on this crucial time.
- Being punctual is an important life skill. Ensuring that your child is punctual gets them into good habits for their future.
- Arriving just 5 minutes late every day equals 3 days of education over the whole year. Arriving half an hour late every day is equivalent to 18 days absence.
It is the parent/carer’s responsibility:
- To notify the school on the first day of absence before 9:30am or as soon as possible. Parents can report an absence by telephoning or emailing the school office.
- To provide medical evidence where possible, on the child’s return to school.
- To ensure that as far as possible, medical appointments are arranged for outside school hours. Where this is not possible, parents are expected to provide evidence of the appointment in advance, and the child should attend school before/after the appointment.
- To liaise with the school as soon as possible regarding any specific issues that might cause absence or lateness, e.g. a sick parent/carer.
Parents/carers of children for whom we do not know the reason for absence will be contacted after 9:30am.
In addition to the points above, if a child is repeatedly absent due to illness, the school will request medical evidence for further absences. This can take the form of a GP appointment card, a consultant letter, a copy of a prescription, etc.
The school will automatically request medical evidence for any illness absence taken immediately before or after a school holiday.
Absence for Holidays
Parents/carers are expected to take their children on holiday during the school holidays to minimise the impact of missing education.
If there are exceptional circumstances, parents/carers must complete a leave of absence request form in advance of the trip (ideally at least 4 weeks prior). These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Headteacher, and they will use their discretion whilst applying government recommendations.
It is the parent/carer’s responsibility:
- To obtain a leave of absence form from the school office.
- To complete and submit the form in advance of the period of absence (ideally 4 weeks prior).
If parents/carers decide to take a holiday without the Headteachers’ authorisation, the child’s absences will be marked as unauthorised. Fixed Penalty Notices will be issued by Education Inclusion and Partnership Team for unauthorised holiday absence during term time, payable direct to the Local Authority. The Penalty Notice is £120 per parent/adult for each student to be paid within 28 days, decreasing to £60 if paid within 21 days. If the Penalty Notice is not paid within 28 days, the Local Authority may instigate legal proceedings under section 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996. If found guilty of an offence under this Act, parents will receive a criminal record and could be fined up to £1000.
Absence for Other Reasons
Absences for reasons such as religious observance or close family bereavement may be authorised by the Headteacher. These requests must be discussed with the school.
It is the parent/carer’s responsibility:
- To inform the office, in writing, of the need for leave in circumstances which are known in advance.
- To inform the school as soon as possible when sudden circumstances occur which prevent a family bringing a child to school, so that the appropriate code can be recorded in the register.
When a child is repeatedly absent and no satisfactory reason is given, the parent/carers will be investigated and may be liable for prosecution and/or a fine from the Local Authority.
Regular monitoring is carried out by the Education Attendance Officer. Children who have repeated unauthorised absences, holidays or otherwise, will be contacted by the Education Attendance Officer and may be invited in to an attendance meeting to discuss absences and any appropriate support.
Role of the Education Attendance Officer
- To investigate absence which exceeds more than 10%, and to hold meetings with these parents as required.
- To investigate lateness which exceeds more than 5%.
- To investigate any unexplained absence which exceeds more than 5 consecutive days.
- To ensure parents are aware of their legal duty under the Education Act to ensure their children attend school.
- To refer cases to the Local Authority for prosecution where persistent absenteeism has not improved despite thorough intervention and support from the school and Education Attendance Officer.
- To report accurate whole school and individual attendance data when required.
Children Missing in Education
If a child is absent (unexplained) for at least 5 consecutive days, the Education Attendance Officer will be notified. A home visit may be carried out. If the absence continues for a total of 10 days, the family will be referred as a CME case for the Local Authority.
Children who repeatedly attend school late after 8:55am will be brought to the attention of the Education Attendance Officer. Warning letters will be issued to the parents/carers of these children.
Parents/carers should note that children who arrive late after 9:30am are given a ‘U’ code, which is the equivalent of an unauthorised absence and this will affect the child’s attendance figures. Fixed penalty notices may be issued to parents/carers whose children persistently arrive after this time.
There may be times where the school staff will carry out home visits if they are concerned with a pupil’s absences or they are checking on the welfare of a child.
Home visits will be carried out on all children that are missing in education.
It is a parent’s legal responsibility to ensure their children receive appropriate education. Failing to send your child to school regularly without good reason is a criminal offence.
Legal action that may be taken includes:
- Issuing penalty notices: Each parent receives a penalty notice for each child who has unauthorised absence. The penalty is £60 or £120 depending on how soon payment is made. So, if there are two parents and two children the total penalties could be up to £480. Failure to pay may result in prosecution.
- Taking parents to court for unauthorised absence: Education Act 1996 Section 444(1) - court can fine each parent up to £1,000 per child, order payment of prosecution costs and/or impose a Parenting Order.
- Taking parents to court for persistent unauthorised absence: Education Act 1996 Section 444(1A) - court can fine each parent up to £2,500 per child, order payment of the prosecution costs, impose a Parenting Order and/or sentence you to a period of imprisonment of up to 3 months.
Being taken to court could result in you having a criminal record.