The importance of school attendance
Richard Bonington Primary and Nursery School believes that education is crucial to provide children with the best possible chance in life. For a child to reach their full educational achievement, a high level of school attendance is essential.
Statistics show a direct link between under-achievement and attendance below 95%.
Improving attendance is everyone’s business. It cannot solely be the preserve of a single member of staff, or organisation, it must be a concerted effort across parents, all school staff in school, the trust, the local governing body, the local authority, and other local partners.
The law on school attendance and right to a full-time education
- The law entitles every child of compulsory school age to a full-time education.
- It is the legal responsibility of every parent to make sure their child receives that education either by attendance at a school or by education otherwise than at a school.
Where parents decide to have their child registered at school, they have an additional legal duty to ensure their child attends regularly. This means their child must attend every day that the school is open, except in a small number of allowable circumstances such as being too ill to attend or being given permission from the school for an absence in advance.
Expectations of schools
As a school, we have a continuing responsibility to proactively manage and improve attendance.
- Develop and maintain a whole school culture that promotes the benefits of high attendance
- Have a clear school attendance policy which all leaders, staff, pupils, and parents understand
- Accurately complete admission and attendance registers and have effective day to day processes in place to follow-up absence
- Regularly analyse attendance and absence data to identify pupils or cohorts that require support with their attendance and put effective strategies in place
- Build strong relationships with families, listen to and understand barriers to attendance and work with families to remove them
- Share information and work collaboratively with other schools in the area, local authorities and other partners when absence is at risk of becoming persistent or severe.
Persistent and severe absence
- Our target for children is +96% attendance.
- If your child’s attendance falls below 95% we will contact you.
- Where absence escalates and pupils miss 10% or more of school, working alongside the local authority, schools will put additional targeted support in place to remove any barriers to attendance and re-engage these pupils. Parents will be invited to a meeting. We will sensitively consider some of the reasons for absence and understand the importance of school as a place of safety and support for children who might be facing difficulties, rather than reaching immediately for punitive approaches.
- Once attendance falls below 90% we will be unable to authorise absence without medical proof.
Attendance legal intervention
As absence is so often a symptom of wider issues a family is facing, schools, the Trust and the local authority will work together with other local partners to understand the barriers to attendance and provide support. Where that is not successful, or is not engaged with, the law protects pupils’ right to an education and provides a range of legal interventions to formalise attendance improvement efforts, and where all other avenues have been exhausted, enforce it through prosecuting parents. Attendance legal intervention can only be used for pupils of compulsory school age and decisions should be made on an individual case by case basis.
The full range of legal interventions are to be considered when making decisions on an individual case by case basis.
- Parenting contract
- Education supervision orders
- Attendance prosecution
- Parenting orders
- Fixed penalty notices
Leave of absence
- There is a clear expectation from Local Authorities and the Government that children are only absent from school in exceptional circumstances.
- Regulations state that children be taken out of school in only ‘exceptional circumstances’.
- Exceptional circumstances are defined as rare, significant, or unavoidable, which means the event could not reasonably be scheduled at another time.
Examples of these circumstances are:
- Service personnel returning from a tour of duty abroad where it is evidenced the individual will not be in receipt of any leave in the near future that coincides with school holidays.
- Where an absence from school is recommended by a health professional as part of a parent or child’s rehabilitation from a medical or emotional issue.
- The death or terminal illness of a person close to the family.
- Out of school programmes such as music, arts or sport operating at a high standard of achievement.
- Religious observance – The Education Act 1996 S444(3)(c) states “on any day exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which his/her parent belongs”.
- To attend a wedding, funeral or ‘special’ family event.
Examples of circumstances not considered as exceptional are:
- Holidays taken in term time due to lower cost/parental work commitments.
- Birthday celebrations.
Parents/carers wishing to apply for leave of absence need to fill in an application form (available from school office and below) in advance and before making any travel arrangements. Families should aim to hand in the form no less than 2 weeks before the proposed absence. We cannot authorise absence retrospectively.
If the school has evidence that a parent has removed a child from school for the purposes of a holiday during term time without authorisation and the level of absence is in excess of 3 days (6 sessions) in total over a 6- week rolling period, then the school can, at the discretion of the Head Teacher, request the Local Authority to issue Penalty Notices to each parent for each child to whom unauthorised absence applies.