We want all the children at Catherine Wayte Primary School to succeed and to achieve their potential. For the children to gain the greatest benefit from their education it is vital that they attend school regularly. Your child should be here on time every day our school is open, unless the reason for their absence is unavoidable. It is very important therefore that you make sure that your child attends regularly and this policy sets out how we will achieve this in partnership.
WHY REGULAR ATTENDANCE IS SO IMPORTANT
The impact that poor attendance has upon a child’s achievement is irrefutable. Poor attendance habits in a child’s early stage of education follow through into secondary school and employment. Children’s absence disrupts teaching routines and may affect the learning of your child and other children in the same class. Ensuring your child’s regular attendance at school is your legal responsibility and permitting absence from school without a good reason creates an offence in law. This may result in prosecution.
Regular attendance at school is essential for the effective education of all children; there is a clear link between good attendance and good progress. Pre-COVID, attendance rates have been very good at Catherine Wayte Primary School, remaining at over 96%. It is important that a high level of attendance is maintained. This is one of the ways in which we can continue to ‘strive for the best’ for every child.
Parents / carers of registered pupils have a legal duty under the Education Act (1996) to make sure that children of compulsory school age attend school on a regular and full-time basis; children reach statutory school age the term after their fifth birthday.
Children are required to attend school for 190/365 days per year. (In very exceptional circumstances, a temporary part-time timetable can be agreed to meet a pupil’s individual needs.)
PROMOTING REGULAR ATTENDANCE
Helping to create a pattern of regular attendance is everybody’s responsibility - parents, children and all members of school staff. To help us make sure that this happens, we will:
• inform you if your child’s attendance or punctuality falls below the acceptable level.
• notify you about your child’s attendance in his/her end of year report.
• ensure our curriculum is engaging and children are supported in school.
Good attendance is expected and encouraged. Rewards for highest attendance are not given because we ask that children who are sick remain at home until they have been clear of sickness/diarrhoea for a full 24 hours.
UNDERSTANDING TYPES OF ATTENDANCE
School registers are completed, by law, every morning and afternoon. Each half day that your child is absent from school has to be classified by the school as either authorised or unauthorised. For this reason, we always need information about the cause of any absence so that we make the right decision.
Authorised absences are mornings or afternoons away from school for a very good reason. These types of absence include: illness, emergency medical/dental appointments, visits to prospective secondary schools or family-related emergencies.
Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider reasonable and for which no agreement in advance of the absence has been given. This type of absence can lead to the Local Authority (Swindon Borough Council) using sanctions and/or legal proceedings. These types of absence include:
• parents/carers keeping children away from school unnecessarily
• absences which have never been properly explained
• children who arrive at school too late to get a mark in the morning/afternoon register
• shopping, looking after other children or birthdays
• day trips and holidays in term time
• excessive illness without medical evidence
• illnesses which do not require children to stay at home / common illnesses which aren’t contagious.
If your child is reluctant to attend school, it is always best to speak to us as soon as possible so that we can support your child. Covering up their absence or to giving in to pressure to excuse them from attending gives them the impression that attendance does not matter.
You can support your child by:
• ensuring regular and early bed times
• following a routine
• preparing uniform the night before
• sharing a healthy breakfast
• reporting any academic or social concerns promptly
• communicating openly and honestly with a member of our staff team
• being positive about school
• if necessary, creating a star/reward chart that helps them to make good choices.
COMMUNICATION WITH PARENTS
Our Attendance Policy is available on the school website. Reminders about holidays in term time, absence due to illness and term dates are published in monthly newsletters.
Blue Kite schools follow term dates which are published in advance by the Local Authority and can be found on www.swindon.gov.uk or on our school website. The school selects an additional 5 days for training, called Teacher Development Days. The school notifies families of term dates and the training days during terms 5 or 6 of the preceding academic year. Regular reminders of term dates, TD days and the importance of regular attendance are given via monthly school newsletters.
A child becomes a ‘persistent absentee’ (PA) when their attendance falls below 90%.
Absence at this level is doing considerable damage to any child’s educational prospects and we need parents’ fullest support and co-operation to tackle this. Missing 10% of the school year is the equivalent to missing at least half a day per week.
We monitor all absence thoroughly. Any case that is seen to have reached the persistent absence mark - or is at risk of moving towards that mark - is given priority and you will be informed of this immediately.
Designated Safeguarding Leads will be informed of children at PA.
If a child has not been at school and no contact has been made with parents, then a home visit by the EWO/or headteacher may be carried out, particularly if there are any additional safeguarding concerns.
Children who have an attendance rate of less than 90% or children who have developed a pattern of persistent lateness - defined as 12 unauthorised absences due to lateness in any 6-week period – are classed as persistent absentees.
Children classed as persistent absentees will be tracked and monitored carefully through our pastoral system and we also combine this with academic mentoring where absence affects attainment. The children and their families will be required to attend a meeting with a member of the senior leadership team and/or the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) to devise an action plan to improve the child’s attendance. The plan may include: allocation of additional support through a mentor; individual incentive programmes; support given via walking bus; or participation in group activities around raising attendance.
If your child will be absent unexpectedly, you must always:
• contact us as soon as possible on the first day of absence to notify us of the reason for your child’s absence
• contact us on each subsequent day of absence.
If your child is absent we will:
• email or call you on the first day of absence if we have not heard from you
• invite you to a meeting with the Head Teacher to discuss your situation if absences persist
• refer the matter to the EWO if attendance drops below 90%.
REASONS FOR ABSENCE
• Parents/carers are asked to contact the school on the first day of absence to provide the reason for the absence and to give an update on each subsequent day of absence
• In the case of gastric illnesses, parents are asked to keep their child away from school until they have been clear of sickness/ diarrhoea for at least 24 hours and often the full 48 hours
• If there are significant concerns about a child’s attendance through persistent illness then the school reserves the right to request medical evidence, such as a doctor’s note, prescription, appointment card or other appropriate form of evidence.
• If the school is not satisfied about the authenticity of the illness, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised and parents/carers will be notified of this.
Parents have been advised to book medical appointments outside of school hours where possible. If an appointment is unavoidable, the pupil should be out of school for the minimum amount of time necessary.
Other requests for absence from school will be considered on an individual basis and a decision will be made as to whether the absence can be authorised and which absence code is appropriate. A request for absence form, available from the school office, should be completed. Other absences which may be authorised, in cases where the school is notified in advance by the parent/ carer, include:
• Days for religious observance
• External examinations e.g. music
• Educational events e.g. swimming in a gala
• Traveller pupils travelling for occupational purposes
• Child performers
• Visiting a new school
• Significant family events such as a funeral of a close family member
It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that leave has been granted before taking a child out of school.
Exceptional leave is a national term that is used for a request to authorise your child’s absence from school in cases such as to attend a wedding/funeral or visit a sick relative or to take a holiday for an exceptional and unavoidable reason (this does not include cheaper holidays, holidays booked by relatives, unavailability of flights, surprise events, family birthdays or celebrations, visiting relatives or work constrictions of parents).
There is no entitlement for the school to agree your child’s absence from school per academic year and the right for your child to be granted exceptional leave cannot be earned through good attendance. The 1996 Education Act, Section 444 states that parents are responsible for ensuring that their children attend school regularly and punctually.
In an academic year, the terms are planned so that there are 190 teaching days in total. This leaves 13 weeks (Monday to Friday) and 52 weekends (Saturday to Sunday) where leave can be taken with no interruption to the teaching and learning for your child.
Exceptional leave is only granted in extenuating circumstances at the discretion of the Head Teacher.
Where a leave request is not authorised, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised in the register; each day will record two sessions of absence.
Schools keep strict records of requests for exceptional leave in term time across all year groups and log the dates and reasons for each request. Patterns of absence from previous years are carefully scrutinized.
If you wish to apply for a period of exceptional leave you must do so in writing to the Head Teacher explaining the reasons for your request. You will be informed of the decision in due course.
Please note a holiday taken during term time will not be authorised.
Where the leave is unauthorised the letter will explain the implications if the leave is taken anyway with the possibility of the parent/carer being issued with a Penalty Notice (PN) by the Education Welfare Service.
Where leave is authorised, the Head Teacher will notify you in writing of the decision and will confirm the number of days which have been authorised.
Details of the child and parent/carer who take unauthorised exceptional leave can be notified to the Education Welfare Service who may issue a Penalty Notice of £60 (rising to £120) per child per parent/carer. An attendance panel may also be convened. Repeated periods of unauthorised absences will result in summonses to Swindon Magistrates Court for prosecution, which may result in a criminal record.
THE EDUCATION WELFARE OFFICER (EWO)
If a child has poor attendance, parents/carers are expected to work with the staff in resolving any problems together. This is nearly always successful. If difficulties cannot be sorted out in this way, the school may refer the child to the Education Welfare Team.
The EWO will also try to resolve the situation by agreement but, if other ways of trying to improve the child’s attendance have failed and unauthorised absences persist, the EWO can use sanctions such as Penalty Notices (currently £60 rising to £120 if unpaid after 21 days. If unpaid after 28 days, a summons to Court will be issued for each unpaid Penalty Notice) or prosecutions in the Magistrates Court. The legislation can be found in the Education Act 1996 sec. 444(1) and 444(1A):
‘’If any child of compulsory school age who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at the school, his/her parent is guilty of an offence.’’
Alternatively, parents or children may wish to contact the Education Welfare Service themselves to ask for help or information. They are independent of the school and will give impartial advice.
We recognize that there may be extenuating circumstances which means a child is unavoidably late to school. These will be exceptional circumstances rather than the norm.
Poor punctuality is not acceptable. If your child misses the start of the day they will miss valuable learning opportunities and experiences. They will miss the class welcome and vital information about the day. Children who arrive late also disrupt lessons which can be embarrassing for the child and can also encourage further absence.
How we manage lateness:
• The school day starts at 8:30am when the register is taken, and we expect your child to be at school ready to join their class by that time
• The gates are locked by 8.40am and entry to the school after this time will be through the main school office. Each day, at 9.00am the registers will be closed. If your child arrives after the register has been taken but before 9.00am, they will receive a late recorded (L). If your child arrives after 9:00am when the register is officially closed, they will receive an unauthorised absence mark (U), which equates to a half day’s absence.
CHILDREN MISSING EDUCATION
In accordance with the most recent version of Keeping Children Safe In Education September, we understand that children missing education may be at risk of abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse or exploitation, and we work to help prevent the risks of their going missing in the future. We follow procedures set out in the DfE Attendance Guidelines September 2020 and understand the school’s responsibilities set out in the DfE Children Missing Education 2016 guidance.
We fulfil our duty to inform the Local Authority of any pupil who has been admitted to another school and is going to be deleted from our admission register, who fails to attend school regularly or has been absent for a period of 10 school days or more.
If a Looked After Child or a child subject to a Child Protection Plan goes missing, we will refer them to Social Services within 48 hours.
We also consider making a referral for any children being withdrawn from school with the intent to be electively home educated where there are safeguarding concerns.
We recognise that ‘Child missing from education’ and ‘Child missing from home or care’ have been added to the list of specific safeguarding issues schools must be vigilant about.
MONITORING OF ATTENDANCE
• Attendance data will be analysed termly (six times a year) to identify patterns of irregular attendance. This will include children with: unusual patterns of absence, Monday and/or Friday absences, lateness, periods of extended absence, unauthorised absences, persistent absence.
• The circumstances of all children with attendance below 95% will be considered.
• Children with absence below 90% will be discussed with either the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) or Blue Kite team as part of our on-going partnership working.
• In cases of Persistent Absence, senior staff will monitor children on a daily basis.
Attendance Monitoring 3 stage process
In order to ensure parents are aware of any cumulative absence which is becoming concerning, school will operate a 3 stage process for informing families.
• Letter 1 – sent when attendance is below 95%. An end of term letter will be sent to make parents aware that their child’s attendance is below that expected. School will monitor attendance over the next half term to ensure that attendance is improved.
• Letter 2 – sent when attendance is below 92%. An end of term letter will be sent to warn parents that their child’s attendance is nearing Persistent Absence and to offer support to help improve this. Medical evidence may be requested for any future absences.
• Letter 3 – sent when attendance is below 90%. A letter will be sent to invite parents to a meeting to discuss how to improve attendance. During this meeting, minutes will be taken and actions for home and for school agreed. At this point, a period of 6 weeks will be given to demonstrate improvement. If no improvement is seen, there will be a resultant referral to the EWO for further intervention.
Throughout this process, school will look at additional support we can offer (e.g. family support, school nurse, reward charts) and we will ensure parents understand the impact and possible consequence of further absence.
The school has a legal duty to publish its absence figures and its attendance policy to parents and to promote attendance.
School attendance data must be available to the Department for Education.
Equally, parents have a duty to make sure that their children attend school. We expect all members of the Catherine Wayte school community to be absolutely committed to working together to ensure that attendance is the best it can be.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBLITIES
The following people have key responsibilities in the pursuit of high levels of attendance and punctuality:
• To set and monitor progress towards annual targets for attendance.
• To evaluate the effectiveness of the Attendance Policy.
• To monitor individual pupil, group and whole school attendance and punctuality.
• To provide Governors with information to enable them to evaluate the success of policy and practice.
• To provide Governors with information to enable them to agree annual attendance targets.
• To communicate with parents/carers regarding significant concerns about their child’s attendance.
• To arrange meetings with parents/carers whose children have poor attendance to discuss support and set attendance targets.
• To work in partnership with outside agencies, as appropriate, when attendance and/or punctuality is an issue.
• To provide an accurate record of the attendance of each child in their class.
• To record the reasons for absence given to them on the appropriate recording sheet.
• To communicate with parents regarding their child’s absences.
• To raise any concerns about a child’s absence with admin staff or the head teacher.
• To respond promptly to any query raised following analysis of registers by admin staff.
• To organise work to be sent home for children in their class who are expected to be absent for an extended period through sickness.
• To input attendance data using the Attendance Manager System.
• To monitor and track attendance patterns for all children and prepare relevant attendance reports for the head teacher and Education Welfare Officer as appropriate.
• To contact any parent who has not informed the school as to why their child is absent on the first day of absence.
• To ensure that a satisfactory reason for every absence has been established for each child at the end of each week.
Parent Support Advisor
• Following a referral from the school, to work with families to improve pupils’ attendance rates.
Education Welfare Officer / Legal Lead for Attendance
• Following a referral from the school, to work with families to improve pupils’ attendance rates.
• To support the school in securing good attendance through regular contact and monitoring individual children’s attendance.
• To enforce the law regarding school attendance.
• Specialist staff and the school nurse may be involved in ensuring the best possible attendance by a child with a severe medical condition. A ‘Care Plan’ is likely to be needed and on-going communication between the family, school and appropriate medical personnel is essential.
The school uses the IT based Attendance Manager to store and monitor data in relationship to attendance.
Registers are a vital legal document and teachers are required by their contractual duties to take an attendance register at the beginning of both the morning and afternoon sessions. Registers are returned to the School Office after the closure of the registration period. Children who arrive at school after registration has closed are recorded as ‘U’ and this is classified as an unauthorised absence.
Children who arrive late before registration closes are recorded as ‘L’. This is not classed as an absence.
Registers must be completed carefully and accurately, as they provide a record of a pupil’s attendance. Failure to complete a register accurately leaves the school vulnerable to complaint from parents or carers and creates a risk if an emergency evacuation has to take place.