Thornham St. James’ C.E. (controlled) Primary School
This school believes that good attendance is essential for all pupils if they are to gain the most from the education we provide. There is clear evidence that demonstrates the link between regular attendance and educational progress and attainment. Absences and holidays taken during term time do cause disruption to a child’s education and result in ‘gaps’ in the child’s learning. As a school, we will encourage parents and carers to ensure that their child achieves maximum possible attendance. It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children attend school every day.
This policy seeks to provide guidance to parents on the legal entitlements of holiday and absence requests in term time. This policy will explain the circumstances when a holiday or absence request will be authorised and when it will not.
The Legal position
It is wrongly assumed that ‘families have a right to 10 days absence!’ This is a common misconception and it is important to note that according to the DFES, ‘There is no right to a leave of absence.’
The legal position is described as follows:
It is the responsibility of parents of registered pupils of compulsory school age to ensure that their child attends school regularly. If the child fails to attend regularly at school then the parent is guilty of an offence.
We expect that all pupils will:
- Attend school every day
- Attend school on time, appropriately dressed and prepared for the day.
We expect that all parents/carers will:
- Ensure regular school attendance.
- Ensure that their child arrives at school on time, prepared for the day.
- Contact the school before 10.00am if their child is unable to attend and send a note into school on the child’s return.
- Notify school immediately of any changes to contact details.
We expect that the school will:
- Keep regular and accurate records of attendance and punctuality.
- Carefully monitor pupil attendance and raise concerns when appropriate.
- Make early contact with parents when their child fails to attend and no contact has been made by the parent/carer.
- Encourage good attendance and punctuality
- Report each child’s attendance to parents/carers at the end of each term.
- Refer irregular or unjustified patterns of attendance to the Education Attendance Officer.
- Provide a welcoming, safe learning environment.
Types of Absence
Children are expected to attend school for the full 190 days of the academic year, unless there is a good reason for absence. There are two types of absence:
Authorised: The school approves pupil absence.
Examples of authorised absence:
- Genuine illness of the pupil
- Major religious observance
- External exams or educational assessments
- Visits to prospective new schools
- Educational visits
- Approved sporting activity
Unauthorised: The school will not approve pupil absence.
Examples of unauthorised absence:
- Holidays in term time
- A birthday treat
- Oversleeping due to a late night
- Appointments/illness of other family members
- No reason given for absence.
The school is responsible for attendance and only the headteacher can authorise absences.
If a child is absent, parents/carers are required to contact the school on the first day of absence before 9.30am, stating the reason for absence. This should be repeated for each subsequent day until the child returns to school. A note should be sent into school on the day the child returns, confirming the reason for absence.
If parents do not make contact with school to explain their child’s absence and no satisfactory reason for absence can be obtained, then the absence will be recorded as unauthorised.
Leave of Absence
Based on local authority guidance and in line with the new amendments, from September 2013 holidays during term time will NOT be authorised unless there are ‘exceptional circumstances’. Where a holiday is taken without authorisation, or the school has reasonable grounds to suspect a holiday has been taken without authorisation, the school may request that the Local Authority issue a penalty notice.
- Where leave of absence in term time is due to ‘exceptional circumstances’, an application form must be requested from the school office and submitted for consideration by the headteacher on behalf of the school governors.
- Each request for leave of absence will be considered individually, taking into account:
- Whether or not there are ‘exceptional circumstances’
- The overall attendance record of the pupil
- Their stage of education and progress
- The timing of the proposed holiday
- The time requested does not exceed 5 days in any school year.
- A parent shall not be granted more than 5 school days leave of absence in any school year even in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
- If leave of absence is taken without permission by the school, it will be referred to the Education Attendance Officer.
- The school will refer for a fixed penalty notice to be issued for unauthorised absence in excess of 5 days.
Under normal circumstances, a holiday in term time or a leave of absence will not be deemed to be ‘exceptional’. Each case will be considered on an individual basis. To provide for consistency and by way of guidance, exceptional circumstances may be exemplified by:
- A family crisis
- Serious family illness
- Medical needs/recuperation
- Extreme and regular difficulty for a family member to get any leave from employment in school time (not to be granted each year for the same family).
- Safeguarding or child protection circumstances.
NB – even where there may be ‘exceptional circumstances’ no authorised leave of absence will be granted during Statutory National testing (SATS week) and internal examinations or testing.
Penalty Notices (see fact sheet appendix)
Penalty notices can be issued for unauthorised leave and may also be issued when a pupil is stopped by the Truancy Patrol or if a parent/carer fails to ensure regular school attendance.
The Headteacher/Governing Body can now request that the Local Authority issue a penalty Notice to parents, when pupils are taken out of school for 5 or more days holiday or leave of absence without school authorisation.
The amount payable on issue of a Penalty Notice is £60 per child per parent if paid within 21 days of receipt of the notice, rising to £120 if paid after this but within 28 days.
If the penalty Notice is not paid within 28 days the Local Authority is then obliged to prosecute for failing to ensure regular attendance.
The bulk of this policy has been agreed by all schools in the Royton and Shaw area, and is based upon local authority guidelines. To be successful, attendance at school must be a high priority for every member of the school community. High attendance is imperative in helping children achieve their full potential.
The Governing Body, through the Headteacher will monitor and review the effectiveness of this policy.