Re: School Attendance
As a school, we have a legal duty of care, to regularly monitor pupil’s attendance and ensure that we are supporting all children to attend school on a daily basis. In light of our current statistics, we felt that it would be helpful to provide parents with some information regarding our attendance procedures and the local authority’s response to this.
It goes without saying that high levels of attendance directly equate to high levels of learning and, in turn, progress. However, we fully understand that there will be times when children are ill and that absence is unavoidable and acceptable.
Each absence is classed as authorised or unauthorised. Absences are coded as authorised where reasons are considered valid and unauthorised where no explanation or unacceptable reasons are given. Our Attendance Officer is responsible for liaising with parents, teachers and senior leaders regarding those children whose attendance falls beneath 95%. We also work closely with our School Liaison Officer from Kent County Council.
The following are examples of reasons which are unacceptable and would be classed as unauthorised:
- child or parent’s birthday
- shopping visits
- care for family members
- days out to theme parks or to attend concerts/shows
- parents’ work commitments or business trips
- holidays taken in term-time (including long weekends taken on Fridays and/or Mondays)
- parental illness
Unauthorised absences can be referred to the Kent Education Welfare Service.
Illness and First Day Call
If your child is unable to attend school through illness you should inform us by telephone on the first day of absence before 9.00am. Alternatively, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call in in person at the Office or use the ParentMail app. It is useful to know the expected day of return. If this information is not supplied, as part of our Safeguarding procedures, we will contact you in order to ascertain your child’s whereabouts.
Where the child is absent through illness or medical appointments this will, in the main, be counted as authorised. Where there are concerns over excessive absence patterns through illness, the school would meet with parents to gain a better understanding of the medical issues.
We would ask parents, where possible, to arrange these appointments outside of school hours. Where children need to attend such appointments during the school day it is important that parents come first to the office before collecting children and return them to the office after the appointment. Please bring your child to the office on returning from the appointment. Please indicate in advance whether s/he will be returning for the midday meal. Medical and dental appointments count as authorised absences and it is helpful if parents provide proof of these appointments.
There are some occasions e.g. bereavements, family issues, etc. where it may be inappropriate for children to attend school. On these occasions, we would ask parents to inform a senior leader and the school will be sympathetic to such needs.
Your child needs to arrive at school ready for registration at 8:55am and the school gate is open between 8:30am and 8:55am, to allow parents time to drop children off. Meeting and exchanging news with friends before school is important for the children's social development and arriving late into class can cause embarrassment. Where a genuine reason for lateness exists, this will be an authorised absence but where explanations are inadequate or the lateness is after 9.05 a.m. then an absence (late) will be recorded.
Request for Absence
It is not our policy to authorise holidays in term time. The only exemption to this is where parents serve in the armed forces (this does not extend to the emergency services i.e. Police, Fire, Ambulance etc.). Where authorisation is not granted, then subsequent term time holiday absence will be reported as a matter of course to the Education Welfare Service; we are under a duty to do this. Where unauthorised leave is taken, the Governing Body will support the imposition of a fixed penalty fine. This is £60, which rises to £120 if you don’t pay within 21 days. If you don’t pay the fine after 28 days you may be prosecuted for your child’s absence from school.
- Approved Public Performance
Where children are invited to perform in a licensed show or concert (e.g. orchestra, pantomime) you are asked to consult with staff about how much time away from school is required. Where possible such requests will be granted provided that the child’s education is unlikely to suffer. The school will also be sympathetic towards leave to participate in a recognised city, county or national sporting event.
Where parents wish to take their child(ren) out of school during term time for purposes other than holidays, they should complete the leave of absence form. This is available from the office.
As an outstanding school we aim for our attendance to be 98% and above, compared with the expectation of 96% nationally.
Anything below 94% is a cause for concern, under 90% is poor and if attendance dips below 85% there are serious concerns. Below 85% is regarded as persistent absence by the DFE.
At the end of each half term, and in line with our attendance policy, we identify pupils whose attendance has fallen below 95% and issue a courtesy letter or make a telephone call informing parents.
As mentioned previously, we have a duty of care, to challenge poor attendance. Where attendance levels are low and where there are invalid reasons for a pupil’s frequent absence or where parents condone absence (e.g. by taking children out of school on unauthorised holidays) then parents render themselves liable to a fine, as mentioned above.
We hope that this gives parents a clear understanding about the school’s expectations and duties in this matter.
Mrs Katie Harris
Head of School