The Legal Position on Attendance
There are only two lawful reasons for a child to miss school, both of which require authorisation by the headteacher. Lawful reasons for absence are when the child is too ill to attend or if the parent has had advance consent from the headteacher rendering their absence as "authorised" due to exceptional circumstances.
From the beginning of the academic year 2015-2016 the government reduced the persistent absence threshold from 15 per cent to 10 per cent. Therefore, a pupil is considered to have persistent absence if their attendance falls below 90%, which is 19 days absence over the year or roughly three days absence over a six-week half term.
At Netherseal St Peter's
Attendance matters. We expect every child to attend school every day and on time unless their absence is authorised in line with the legal position as detailed above. We know that attendance and attainment go hand in hand; our records consistently show that children who have a poor attendance record make far less progress than their peers. This is because if children are not in school then they are missing the actual teaching that takes place in every year group, in every classroom, throughout every single day. Children who regularly have days off school miss out on this teaching, find it very difficult to keep up with the rest of the class and quickly begin to fall behind. In our school, persistent absence is rare but in cases where attendance nears this threshold, a referral will be made to The Multi Agency Team who will then work with the family to help improve their child’s attendance and avoid prosecution.
In addition, we request that families support us in the following ways:
- Make sure children come to school on time. School opens at 8.50 am each day and lessons start straight away. Children who arrive even a few minutes late are missing out on learning opportunities. Please also be aware that if children arrive after the register has closed then they will be marked as absent without authorisation.
- If a child is ill, please telephone the school office on each morning of the absence. On the child’s return to school, please confirm the reason in writing, otherwise the absence will be unauthorised.
- Make children's general medical check-up appointments for the school holidays.
- Whenever possible, make appointments at doctors’ surgeries after school, as many are now open until quite late.
- Return children to school immediately after a medical appointment, if the child is well, rather than give them the whole day off.
Leave of Absence, Including Holidays, During Term Time
In September 2013 the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 came into force. These regulations make it clear that Headteachers should not grant approval for any leave of absence during term-time, including holidays, unless there are exceptional circumstances. These regulations also state that holidays cannot be authorised retrospectively.
Any requests should be on an official school leave of absence request form and handed into the school office for consideration by the Headteacher prior to any holiday/leave arrangements being made. Each request is taken on its own merits and based on the information supplied by the parent. Where a request is refused and the child is kept away from school anyway, this would be treated as unauthorised absence.
Where a child is kept away from school for a family holiday or other reason without authorisation being sought, this would be treated as unauthorised absence.
Under each of the above circumstances parents may be issued with a Penalty Notice which if unpaid could lead to prosecution under section 444(1) of The Education Act 1996. From 1st September 2017, if requested, Derbyshire County Council will consider the issue of a penalty notice for any period of holiday absence which has not been authorised by the Headteacher, regardless of the child’s wider school attendance.
Attendance does matter; we thank parents for helping us to ensure every one of our children comes to school regularly and gains optimum benefit from the high standards of teaching and learning we provide.