At Camblesforth CP School, we believe that the majority of pupils want to attend school to learn and that their achievements and progress are directly influenced by attendance, motivation and involvement. Pupils suffer when these are unsatisfactory. The attendance management policy is part of a larger framework of policies for managing and organising the school in order to ensure that all pupils have the right to equal access to the curriculum and are not denied opportunities as a result of their own, or others, poor or non-attendance.
As a school, our aims are:
- To support children by valuing, noting and rewarding their attendance.
- To communicate with parents that their role in promoting good attendance and punctuality is important to both their child’s, and the school’s, success.
- To maintain effective procedures to record and monitor children’s attendance.
- To identify and respond swiftly to issues affecting pupils absence supporting children and their families if the need arises.
- To meet our statutory obligations in relation to the attendance management of pupils.
Roles and Responsibilities
- The Headteacher will have a general oversight and responsibility for attendance and will communicate about attendance and punctuality to pupils, parents, staff, and the Education Social Worker.
- Class teachers have day to day responsibility for recording and monitoring children’s attendance
- The Education Welfare Officer works with the Headteacher to monitor patterns of attendance, visiting the school at least once each term.
Promoting Good Attendance
- Teaching and support staff frequently comment and praise good attendance.
- Good attendance is encouraged and celebrated through the termly presentation of certificates of attendance to those children with a 100% attendance record. This is an important feature of end of term/year assemblies.
- Through the school prospectus, parent evenings and newsletters parents will be informed of their responsibility to ensure that their children attend school regularly and punctually.
- All staff are expected to set an example themselves by being punctual and dismissing classes on time.
An accurate, consistent and rigorous system of registration throughout the school is in place. This ensures that pupils are aware that registration is taking place and is significant. The following practices are followed by school staff:
- DFE guidelines are adhered to, with registration being completed by class teachers, using a paper based register sheet, at the beginning of each morning and afternoon session. The register is closed at 9.15 a.m and 1.15 p.m, after which the register is sent to the school office.
- Office staff input attendance data onto SIMS (a computer based program) on a daily basis.
- Unexplained absences are promptly followed up by Office staff in order to ascertain both the child’s safety and reason for the absence.
- Absences need to be shown as authorised or unauthorised using the symbols indicated in the NYCC and DFE guidelines. See appendix 1
- Children leaving the school after registration or returning later following a medical visit etc will be recorded in a book kept for such purpose at the school office. All parents must be made aware of this when taking children out of school during the school day as an accurate record of who is on the premises is required for health and safety reasons.
Only the school, within the context of the law, can approve absence, not parents. The school remains alert to emerging patterns of ‘authorised absence’.
When the school is satisfied a pupil is absent by reason of illness etc the absence is treated as AUTHORISED. In order to authorise an absence, notification must be received from the parent. Parents are required to contact school on a daily basis if the illness lasts longer than one day.
If a child has not arrived in class when the register closes, and no prior explanation for absence has been given, the office staff will telephone the parent or carer to ascertain the safety of the pupil and the reason for the absence. The office staff will inform the class teacher of the outcome of the query by recording the response in the class register.
Should attempts to contact home be unsuccessful, the matter will be reported to the headteacher who will determine subsequent actions.
Parents will be notified by letter when their child’s attendance falls below 90%. The attendance will then be carefully monitored over a four week period. Should further absences occur during this time, a behaviour support plan will be put in place.
When attendance fall below 85%, parents or carers will be required to attend an attendance meeting with the Educational Welfare Office and the Headteacher. Attendance targets and a support plan will be put in place within the meeting.
- Pupils are expected to arrive at school at 8.55 a.m for the morning session, and 1.00p.m for the afternoon session.
- Pupils who arrive after the register has closed are required to sign the ‘late book’ which is kept in the school office. Should a pupil be late on three occasions within a single week, a letter will be sent home to request greater punctuality.
- Persistent lateness will be monitored by the Headteacher and Education Welfare Office. A support plan will be put in place, and targets to improve punctuality agreed, should lateness fail to improve despite letters being sent home on three or more occasions within a single school term.
Leave of Absence
From September 2013, the school has been required to implement Government changes to the regulations for granting leaves of absence. These changes are mandatory are applied for five year olds and above throughout all primary and secondary schools.
In order to request a leave of absence, parents must complete a NYCC request form which is available from the school office, or website. From September 2013 the school cannot authorise any absence for family holidays or special events and would urge parents to consider carefully any requests which they may wish to make.
THE RULE IS THAT ONLY TRULY EXCEPTIONAL CASES CAN BE AUTHORISED.
The Headteacher will consider the following:-
- The nature of the event
- Whether the correct advance notice of six weeks has been given
- The pupils record of attendance. Leave of absence cannot be given for pupils with less than 90% attendance within the current academic year.
The following are examples of the criteria for leave of absence, which may be considered as exceptional:
- Service personnel returning from active employment
- Where inflexibility of the parents’ leave or working arrangement is part of the organisational or company policy This would need to be evidenced by the production of the company policy.
- Where leave is recommended as part of a parents’ or child’s rehabilitation from medical or emotional problems. Evidence must be provided.
- When a family needs to spend time together to support each other during or after a crisis.
This is not an exhaustive list and the Headteacher will consider individual circumstances. Where the Headteacher feels that there may be exceptional circumstances which do not fit the criteria, they may refer to the local authority for advice. The decision of the Headteacher is final. Parents who take a child on leave in term time without permission of the school risk being issued with a penalty notice fine for unauthorised absences.
All requests for leave of absence must be made in writing as far in advance as possible and at least six weeks before the first date of the period of leave being requested. Parents or carers must obtain permission before making any arrangements for leave in exceptional circumstances, otherwise the absence will be recorded as unauthorised.
Appendix One North Yorkshire Local Authority Guidance
Definition of a parent
A parent means:
All natural parents, whether they are married or not;
Any person who has parental responsibility for a child or young person; and,
Any person who has care of a child or young person i.e. lives with and looks after the child.
The local authority and school will need to decide who comes within the definition of parent in respect of a particular pupil when using the legal measures, but generally parents include all those with day to day responsibility for a child.
Context of the school attendance measures
Parents are responsible for making sure that their children of compulsory school age receive a suitable full-time education. This can be by regular attendance at school, at alternative provision, or otherwise (e.g. the parent can choose to educate their child at home).
A child reaches compulsory school age on or after their fifth birthday. If they turn 5 between 1 January and 31 March they are of compulsory school age on 31 March; if they turn 5 between 1 April and 31 August they are of compulsory school age on 31 August. If they turn 5 between 1 September and 31 December, then they are of compulsory school age on 31st December.
A child continues to be of compulsory school age until the last Friday of June in the school year that they reach sixteen. From September 2013 12 all 16 year-olds will be required to continue in education or training, until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17. From September 2015 they will be required to continue until their 18th birthday.
School Attendance Orders
If it appears to the local authority that a child of compulsory school age is not receiving a suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, then they must begin procedures for issuing a School Attendance Order. The order will require the child’s parents to register their child at a named school. If they fail to comply with the order the parent can be prosecuted.
Prosecutions by local authorities
If a child of compulsory school age fails to attend regularly at a school at which they are registered or at a place where alternative provision is provided for them the parents may be guilty of an offence and can be prosecuted by the local authority. Only local authorities can prosecute parents and they must fund all associated costs. Local authorities should consider the Attorney General’s Guidelines for Crown Prosecutors in all prosecution cases.
Local authorities must conduct all investigations in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act 1984.
Local authorities have the power to prosecute parents who fail to comply with a school attendance order (section 443 of the Education Act 1996) or fail to ensure their child’s regular attendance at a school (section 444 of the Education Act 1996).
Section 444 has two separate but linked offences: Section 444(1): where a parent fails to secure the child’s regular attendance; and section 444(1A) where a parent knows that the child is failing to attend school regularly, and fails to ensure the child does so. Section 444ZA applies the offence to where parents fail to secure the regular attendance of their child at a place where alternative provision is provided. There are statutory defences for parents to use under the Act. The fines available to the courts if parents are found guilty of the section 444 (1) offence include a level 3 fine of up to £1,000. If they are found guilty of the section 444 (1A) the fine is at level 4, up to £2,500 and the court can also sentence them to imprisonment for up to three months. Local authorities have the power to prosecute parents of pupils found in a public place during school hours after being excluded from school. The fine is a level 3 fine of up to £1,000
Education Supervision Orders
The local authority must consider applying for an Education Supervision Order (ESO) before prosecuting parents16. A local authority may apply for an ESO instead of or as well as prosecuting parents. The order is placed on the child and the local authority is appointed by the court to supervise that child’s education either at a school or at home for a specified period of time.
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 be issued to each parent liable for the attendance offence or offences.
Penalties can be used where the pupil’s absence has not been authorised by the school.
Penalties 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.
The Code of Conduct
The Education (Penalty Notices) Regulations 2007 set out the details of how the penalty notice scheme must operate. This includes a requirement that every local authority must draw up and publish a Code of Conduct for issuing penalty notices, after consulting all schools, including academies, and the police. The code should set out the criteria that will be used to trigger the use of a penalty notice. These could include: a number of unauthorised absences, perhaps within a rolling academic year; one-off instances of irregular attendance such as holidays taken during term time without the school’s permission; and where an excluded child is found in a public place during school hours without a justifiable reason.
The local authority administers the scheme for all schools in its area, including academies and Free Schools.
Payment of Penalty Notice
From the 1st September 2013
The penalty is £60 if paid within 21 days of receipt rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days. The payment must be paid direct to the local authority. The parents can only be prosecuted if 28 days have expired and full payment has not been made.
There is no right of appeal by parents against a penalty notice. If the penalty is not paid in full by the end of the 28 day period the local authority must decide either to prosecute for the original offence to which the notice applies or withdraw the notice.
Can schools decide whether parents should be prosecuted or not? No. Only local authorities can make decisions on whether parents should be prosecuted for school attendance offences. All schools (including academies) have a duty to refer regular absence (authorised and unauthorised) to the relevant local authority. This may include any evidence to show how they supported the pupil and parent to improve attendance. It is for each local authority to judge each referral on its own merits and make a decision on the next probable cause of action.
It is the statutory duty of local authorities to carry out investigations including witness statements leading up to prosecutions. Local authorities should conduct all investigations in accordance with PACE and Attorney General’s Guidelines for Crown Prosecutors Local authorities cannot delegate this function to schools (including academies) or charge them for this service.