The Department for Education expects schools and local authorities to promote good attendance and reduce absences, including persistent absence. This is because we know that missing out on lessons leaves children vulnerable to falling behind. Children with poor attendance tend to achieve less in both Primary and Secondary schools.
As a school we work incredibly hard to support all children and their families so as to ensure that all children have good attendance.
There are several ways a parent/carer can inform us of absence. (We must be satisfied that it is a person with parental responsibility giving us the information).
It is vital that you let us know each day why your child is absent as this is essential for safeguarding reasons. If we do not hear from parents as to why their child is absent we will first text parents and then ring to ensure they are safe at home. In some cases if we are particularly worried or have not had any response from a text or phone call we will visit your home and if necessary inform social care and the police who can do a welfare check on the children at our request. This is something we do not want to have to do but if we do not hear from parents we have a duty of care to follow up on the absence if we are unduly worried. Also from a parents perspective it is essential that you let school know otherwise it is marked on the register as an 'O' which is an unauthorised absence and these absences are part of the reason some parents are taken to court for poor attendance for their child.
Children who are genuinely ill have the register marked with an 'I' and children attending doctors or dentist appointments are marked as an 'M' (authorised absences). All holidays are marked as a 'G' (unauthorised absences) and as mentioned previously, no reason given for absence are marked as an 'O' (unauthorised absence). This is per session for morning and afternoon registration.
Each term we send out letters to parents whose child's attendance has fallen to 90% or below. This could have been due to a holiday at the beginning of the year or a spell of illness, particular in the autumn and spring terms where we do have more cold and flu bugs. We do not enjoy sending these letters to parents but we have a duty to do this and alert parents to their child's attendance as soon as possible. Ongoing poor attendance is communicated to our Education Welfare Officer who we have to report to each term. This can lead to an Attendance Panel review meeting at school. The aim of these meetings is to give school, parents and the EWO the chance to sit together and look at reasons for absence, the impact this is having and look at ways that this can be addressed.
In line with Government and Local Education Authority policy, any holidays taken in school time have to be recorded as an unauthorised absence. Our school is accountable to the DfE for our attendance. Leave of absence can only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
As a school we are unable to authorise school holidays taken in term time as very rarely are they classed as exceptional circumstances. Derbyshire County Council issue a Fixed Penalty Notice to parents for unauthorised attendance due to a holiday but not all parents are fined as the previous years attendance is also taken in account. School do not issue the fixed penalty notices and we do not see a penny from the fine!
We do empathise with parents as we know that holidays in term time are considerably cheaper than in school holidays. The only advice we are able to give is if you are going to take your child away in term time, please do send a letter in to Mr Blake and let the School Office know so that we know where your child is and also it isn't always necessary to miss a whole week or two weeks of education, sometimes just a couple of days either side of the school holiday does make the holiday cost significantly cheaper. We are not condoning this but we accept that several parents will always take their children on holiday in term time regardless of a fine being issued.
Please see guidance below: