Thursday, 23 November 2017

School Attendance Policy

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Introduction

 

Regular attendance at St. Patrick’s is essential. Children who attend school regularly achieve more. Missing school leads to gaps in children’s education and makes it more difficult for them to achieve their potential. Poor attendance affects a child’s attainment, relationships with other children and their confidence.

Attendance in our school is regularly monitored using attendance records and we encourage and support parents to ensure persistent absences are avoided. We strive to develop positive attitudes towards attendance and learning.

 

St. Patrick’s is committed to:

Following the framework set in Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 which states that:

“The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him/her to receive efficient full time education suitable:-

(a) to age, ability and aptitude and

(b) to any special educational needs he/ she may have

Either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.”[1]

 

Legal Framework

 

This policy has due regard to statutory legislation, including, but not limited to, the following:

·        Education Act 1996

·        Equality Act 2010

·        Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 (As amended)

This policy also has regard to non-statutory DfE guidance, including, but not limited to, the following:

DfE (2014) ‘School attendance’

 

 

Our Aims

 

The expectations of Primary School are that there will be:

· Regular attendance from all pupils, achieving attendance records consistently of over 95% per year, aiming for the highest possible attendance.

· No unauthorised absences and that the communication between home and school in regard to absences will be extremely effective.

· Punctual attendance where lateness will be discouraged by the school and by the parents.

 

Roles and responsibilities

 

-At St. Patrick’s we ensure that we adhere to the Children’s Services School Absence Enforcement Policy (See Appendix 1) and DFE School Attendance Statutory guidance and departmental advice.

 

-The governing body has overall responsibility for the implementation of the Primary Attendance Policy and procedures of St. Patrick’s Catholic Primary School.

 

-The governing body has overall responsibility for ensuring that the attendance policy, as written, does not discriminate on any grounds, including, but not limited to ethnicity/national origin, culture, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

 

-The governing body has responsibility for handling complaints regarding this policy as outlined in the school’s complaints policy.

 

-The Deputy Headteacher is responsible for the day-to-day implementation and management of the Primary Attendance Policy and procedures of the school.

 

-The school has effective systems and procedures for encouraging regular school attendance and investigating the underlying causes of poor attendance

 

-Staff, including teachers, support staff and volunteers, are responsible for following the Primary Attendance Policy and for ensuring pupils do so too. They are also responsible for ensuring the policy is implemented fairly and consistently.

 

-Staff, including teachers, support staff and volunteers, are responsible for modelling good attendance behaviour and implementing the agreed policy.

 

-Parents/carers are expected to take responsibility for the attendance of their child during term-time.

 

-Parents/carers are expected to promote good attendance behaviour and ensure that their child attends school every day.

 

-The school makes parents aware of the school attendance policy either by making it available on request/school website or by use of parents attendance leaflet.

 

 

Systems and Procedures

 

At St. Patrick’s we have systems and procedures for:

 

-Registering pupils

-Categorising absence

-Collating and analysing attendance data

-Determining in which exceptional circumstances leave of absence will be granted for holidays during term time

-Dealing with late arrivals

-Dealing with unauthorised absence

-Referring cases to Children’s Services

-Reintegrating pupils who have been absent (learning mentor).

 

 

Definitions

 

For the purpose of this policy, the school defines:

“Absence” as:

Arrival at school after the register has closed.

Not attending school for any reason.

 

An “authorised absence” as:

 

An absence for sickness for which the school has granted leave.

Medical or dental appointments which unavoidably fall during school time, for which the school has granted leave.

Religious or cultural observances for which the school has granted leave.

An absence due to a family emergency.

 

An “unauthorised absence” as:

 

-Parents/carers keeping children off school unnecessarily or without reason.

-Truancy before or during the school day.

-Absences which have never been properly explained.

-Arrival at school after the register has closed.

-Shopping, looking after other children or birthdays.

-Day trips and holidays in term-time which have not been agreed.

-Leaving school for no reason during the day. 

 

“Persistent absenteeism” as:

 

-Missing 10 percent% or more of schooling across the year for any reason.

 

 

Registering Pupils

 

Children are registered every morning and afternoon.

Registers will be taken punctually each day at 9 am and at 1pm. Register closes at 9.15 am and 1.15 pm.

Children will be marked absent or late by teachers using our attendance system. The office personnel record whether the attendance is authorised or unauthorised.

 

Authorised Absence

Only the Head Teacher can authorise absence. If a child is ill or unable to attend school for some reason, parents should provide an explanation for this non-attendance.

 

An absence book is kept in the office and phone calls are taken from parents/carer in the morning. If a phone call is received to say that the child is ill, then the absence is recorded as authorised.

 

Parents are required to contact the school as soon as possible on the first day of absence. Alternatively, parents/carers may call into school and report to the school office.

 

We have a first phone call protocol where we contact the parent/carer regarding their child’s absence if we have not received an explanation. We repeat contact after three days of absence.

 

For repeated or regular periods of illness the school will request verification is provided such as a medical certificate from the family doctor prior to authorising any absence.

In exceptional circumstances, the Head teacher may authorise absences. This may be due to:

-Serious illness to close family

-Funeral

-Representation in a national or county sports event

-Other significant family events or circumstances

 

Unauthorised Absences

If no explanation of absence is received, it is considered unauthorised.

An unauthorised absence from school is any absence that is deemed not to be an acceptable reason for missing school. Unauthorised absences from school carry the risk of prosecution under section 444 or 444(1A) of the Education Act 1996.

 

Holidays in Term Time

 

Family holidays, visiting relatives, family trips are not considered to be exceptional circumstances so will be marked as unauthorised. Parents and carers will have to contact the Headteacher outlining in writing the “exceptional circumstances” if they are requesting leave of absence. In reality, by law, the Headteacher will not be able to authorise holidays in term time and if your child is not in school and on holiday in term time the absence will be recorded as an unauthorised absence unless the ‘exceptional criteria’ applies.

 

Exceptional Circumstances

The head teacher only authorises leave of absence in exceptional circumstances. If a head teacher grants a leave request, it will be for the head teacher to determine the length of time that the child can be away from school.

 

Dealing with late arrivals/persistent lateness

 

If a child is late they must enter by the main entrance and let a member of staff in the office know.

It is to be expected that very occasionally a child may be late for a genuine reason.

The concern is in regard to any consistent late arrivals (where there is no avoidable reason). If there are children who fall into this category then the following procedure takes place:

-Child reminded by class teacher of importance of punctual attendance

-Parent is reminded by class teacher of importance and reasons for lateness and support strategies discussed.

-Staff responsible for attendance contacts parents informally for discussion about continued lateness

-Formal written letter from Head teacher

 

Parental Responsibility

 

Parents and carers are responsible for ensuring that children attend school regularly and punctually. It is the parent’s responsibility to notify our school if their child is unable to attend school or is going to be late.

 

Under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996, parents are responsible for making sure that their child of compulsory school age receives efficient full time education that is suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have.  This can be by regular attendance at school or by education otherwise (including the parent choosing to educate their child at home).

Compulsory school age is defined as being the term commencing on or after a child’s fifth birthday.  A child continues to be of compulsory school age until the last Friday of June in the school year that they reach sixteen.  This applies to the parents of children of compulsory school age who are registered at a maintained school, a pupil referral unit, an Academy, or other state provided education.

Section 576 of the Education Act 1996: Definition of a Parent – is as follows whether they are married or not; any person who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility (as defined in the Children Act 1989) for a child or young person; and any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person.  Having care of a child or young person means that a person with whom the child lives and who looks after the child, irrespective of what their relationship is with the child, is considered to be a parent in education law.  Throughout this document, references to ‘parent’ mean each and every parent coming within the definition (whether acting jointly or separately) and should not be taken to mean that provisions only apply to ‘parent’ in the singular.

 

Parental Obligations

-Ensure your child attends school regularly.

 -Provide the school with accurate and up to date contact details and update the school if details change

-Report your child’s absence before 9:00 am; in person, by telephone, text, e-mail or letter.

-Ensure your child is not late for school.

-Avoid taking your child out of school for non-urgent matters (hairdressers, shopping,  birthdays).

-Ensure that medical appointments cause the minimum of disruption.

-Do not  allow your child to be absent for a whole day when their medical appointment is only a short, local one.

 

 Referrals to Children’s Services

 

If a child’s absence falls below 90% and there is no sustained improvement despite school intervention the school will consider a referral to Children’s Services following the Attendance Protocol.

 

Parenting Contract

 

With close liaison with the Local Authority and/or governing body, it may be decided that a parenting contract is drawn up. This is a formal written signed agreement between parents and either the local authority or the governing body of a school and should contain:

-A statement by the parents that they agree to comply for a specified period with whatever requirements are set out in the contract; and

-A statement by the local authority or governing body agreeing to provide support to the parents for the purpose of complying with the contract.

 

Parenting contracts can be used in cases of misbehaviour or irregular attendance at school or alternative provision. Parenting contracts are voluntary but any non-compliance should be recorded by the school or local authority as it may be used as evidence in court where an application is made for a behaviour parenting order.

 

The local authority or governing body should fund any support required to implement a parenting contract (such as referral to parenting classes) and provide information to parents about other types of support available, such as details of national and local agencies and

 

Parenting Orders

 

Parenting orders are imposed by the court and the parents’ agreement is not required before an order is made.

Parenting orders are available as an ‘ancillary order’ following a successful prosecution by the local authority for irregular attendance or breach of a school attendance order.

They are also available as a ‘free-standing order’ by direct application by the governing body of a school, or local authority to the Magistrates’ Court, in cases either where exclusion has taken place or where there has been serious misbehaviour. An application for a parenting order for misbehaviour must be made within 40 school days of the date upon which the latest instance of serious misbehaviour occurred or, if applicable, the date on which the exclusion review process ends. If a parent has already entered into a parenting contract, an application can be made within 6 months of the date the contract was signed.

Parenting orders consist of 2 elements:

-A requirement for parents to attend counselling or guidance sessions (e.g. parenting education or parenting support classes) where they will receive help and support to enable them to improve their child’s behaviour. This is the core of the parenting order and lasts for up to 3 months; and,

-A requirement for parents to comply with such requirements as is specified in the order. This element can last up to 12 months.

All parenting orders must be supervised by a ‘responsible officer’ from the school (behaviour orders only) or local authority. They are individually named in the parenting order.

Any breach by parents without a reasonable excuse could lead to a fine of up to £1,000. The police may enforce any breach of an order by a parent.

Parents have a right to appeal a parenting order to the Crown Court.

 

Penalty Notices

 

Penalty notices are fines of £60/£120 imposed on parents. They are an alternative to the prosecution of parents for failing to ensure that their child of compulsory school age regularly attends the school where they are registered or at a place where alternative provision is provided.

Penalty notices can only be issued by a head teacher or someone authorised by them (a deputy or assistant head), a local authority officer or the police. All schools and the police must send copies of penalties issued to the local authority. Penalty notices can be issued to each parent liable for the attendance offence or offences.

Penalty notices can be used where the pupil’s absence has not been authorised by the school. Penalty notices may also be issued where parents allow their child to be present in a public place during school hours without reasonable justification during the first five days of a fixed period or permanent exclusion. The parents must have been notified by the school at the time of the exclusion of this and the days to which it applies.

 

Prosecution

 

Our school cannot decide whether to prosecute parents for school attendance offences.

Should a child’s attendance fail to improve, the Access and Inclusion Team, within the local authority, will consider the use of legal sanctions and may in accordance with the Prosecution Policy decide to prosecute the parent(s) for failing to ensure regular school attendance.

 

Governors

 

Attendance will be an agenda item at the first Governors’ meeting after the completion of the previous term. The Head teacher will report to the Governing Body at this meeting.

 

The nominated Governor responsible for the monitoring of attendance is Mr. Roy Atkinson.

 

An attendance summary / action plan and attendance target for the following year will be incorporated in the annual report to parents.

 

 

Attendance Monitoring Procedures:

 

-First phone call protocol

-Three day follow up phone calls

-Weekly attendance reports and individual attendance reports to be monitored

-Our disadvantaged children’s attendance to be monitored, and compared to their non-pupil premium counterparts

-Regular attendance section on weekly newsletter

-Learning mentor involvement

-RAG letters at the end of every term

-Pupil premium incentives

 

If a pupil’s attendance does not improve after notification via attendance reports and RAG letters, the class teacher will speak with the parent.  Attendance will then be reviewed and if there is no improvement an appointment will be made with the Deputy Headteacher who will advise on the pupil’s current attendance and offer support. Should the pupils attendance not improve an appointment with the schools attendance panel will be made. (See Appendix 1)

 

 

 

Incentives and rewards

 

Pupils at St Patrick’s School will be made aware of the importance of maintaining their attendance at the highest possible level and we will positively encourage and celebrate good and improving school attendance:

 

-We share class attendance in weekly assemblies, including classes that have 100%. Classes who have had 100 % attendance for a week receive stickers and a small class agreed reward

 

-Every half term we share all of the children who have had 100% attendance.

 

-Every half term, Gold, Silver and Bronze certificates for the three classes with the most improved attendance over a half term are awarded

 

· Individual certificates and attendance badges for pupil premium children with improving attendance half termly.

 

 

 

 



[1] Education Act 1996, section 7