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Our Attendance Policy

Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery

 

Pupil Attendance Policy

 

Introduction and Background

Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery recognises that positive behaviour and good attendance are essential in order to raise standards of pupil attainment and to give every child/young person the best educational experience possible. 

 

The law entitles every child of compulsory school age to an efficient, full-time education suitable to their age, aptitude, and any special educational need they may have. 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 that school 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 for an absence in advance from the school.

 

The DfE has produced guidance for maintained schools, academies, independent schools, and local authorities: Working together to improve school attendance. Our Attendance Policy reflects the key principles of that guidance.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-improve-school-attendance

 

This policy is written with the above guidance in mind and underpins our school ethos to:

  • promote children’s welfare and safeguarding
  • ensure every pupil has access to the full-time education to which they are entitled
  • ensure that pupils succeed whilst at school
  • ensure that pupils have access to the widest possible range of opportunities at school, and when they leave school

 

It has been developed in consultation with school governors, teachers, local Headteacher Associations, the Local Authority and parents and carers. It seeks to ensure that all parties involved in the practicalities of school attendance are aware and informed of attendance matters in school and to outline the school's commitment to attendance matters. It details the responsibilities of individuals and groups involved and the procedures in place to promote and monitor pupil attendance.

 

Our policy aims to raise and maintain levels of attendance by:

  • Promoting a positive and welcoming atmosphere in which pupils feel safe, secure and valued
  • Raising awareness of the importance of good attendance and punctuality
  • Ensuring that attendance is monitored effectively and reasons for absences are recorded promptly and consistently

 

For our children to gain the greatest benefit from their education it is vital that they attend regularly and be at school, on time, every day the school is open unless the reason for the absence is unavoidable. It is a rule of this school that pupils must attend every day, unless there are exceptional circumstances and it is the headteacher, not the parent, who can authorise the absence.


 

Promoting Regular Attendance

At Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery, we believe in developing good patterns of attendance and set high expectations for the attendance and punctuality for all our pupils from the outset.  It is a central part of our school’s vision, values, ethos, and day to day life.  We recognise the connections between attendance, attainment, safeguarding and wellbeing.

 

The name and contact details of the senior leader responsible for the strategic approach to attendance in our school is:

Emma Donegan

attendance@springmeadow.essex.sch.uk 

01255 504528

 

Helping to create a pattern of regular attendance is the responsibility of parents, pupils and all members of school staff.

 

To help us all to focus on this we will:

  • Give parents/carers details on attendance in our newsletters.
  • Ensure all school holiday dates including non-pupil days are clearly marked and displayed on our school website.
  • Report to parents/carers at least annually on their child’s attendance and within the annual school report.
  • Contact parents/carers should their child’s attendance fall below the school’s target for attendance and support parents and carers to address any barriers to good attendance.


 

Understanding Types of Absence

Any absence affects the pattern of a child’s schooling and regular absence will seriously affect their learning. Any pupil’s absence or late arrival disrupts teaching routines and so may affect the learning of others in the same class. Ensuring a child’s regular attendance at school is a parental responsibility and allowing absence from school without a good reason creates an offence in law and may result in prosecution.

 

Every half-day absence from school has to be classified by the school (not by the parent), as either authorised or unauthorised. This is why information about the cause of any absence is always required. Each half-day is known as a ‘session’.

 

Authorised absences are morning or afternoon sessions away from school for a genuine reason such as illness (although you may be asked to provide medical evidence for your child before this can be authorised), medical or dental appointments which unavoidably fall in school time, emergencies or other unavoidable cause.

 

Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider reasonable and for which no ‘leave’ has been granted. This type of absence can lead to the school referring to the Local Authority for penalty notices and/or legal proceedings. 

 

Unauthorised absence includes, however is not exhaustive:

 

  • parents/carers keeping children off school unnecessarily e.g. because they had a late night or for non-infectious illness or injury that would not affect their ability to learn
  • absences which have never been properly explained
  • children who arrive at school after the close of registration are marked using a ‘U’. This indicates that they are in school for safeguarding purposes, however is counted as an absence for the session
  • shopping trips
  • looking after other children or children accompanying siblings or parents to medical appointments
  • their own or family birthdays
  • holidays taken during term time without leave, not deemed ‘for exceptional purposes’ by the headteacher - may result in school applying to the local authority to issue a penalty notice or if you have previously been issued a Penalty Notice, the school may request a direct prosecution by the local authority
  • day trips 
  • other leave of absence in term time which has not been agreed

 

Persistent Absenteeism (PA)

A pupil is defined by the Government as a ‘persistent absentee’ when they miss 10% or more schooling across the school year for any reason; this can be authorised or unauthorised absence. Absence at this level will cause considerable damage to any pupil’s education and we need the full support and cooperation of parents to resolve this. 


 

Absence Procedures

The name and contact details of the school staff member pupils and parents should contact about attendance on a day to day basis is:

 

Sapphire Davids

attendance@springmeadow.essex.sch.uk 

01255 504528

 

We thoroughly monitor all absences, and the reasons that are given.

 

If a child is absent from school the parent must follow these procedures:

  • Contact the school on the first day of absence before 9am. The school has an answer phone available to leave a message if nobody is available to take your call, or you may call into school personally and speak to the office staff
  • Contact the school on every further day of absence, again before 9am
  • Contact Mrs Neal (Pupil Wellbeing Mentor) if you require advice or support.
  • Ensure that your child returns to school as soon as possible and you provide any medical evidence, if requested, to support the absence

 

If your child is absent we will:

  • Telephone or text you on the first, and every subsequent day of absence, if we have not heard from you however it is your responsibility to contact us
  • If we are still unable to get hold of you, we will call the other contacts on your child/ren’s records that we hold in school. (For this reason it is important that we have at least two, but ideally three, contacts and that you  inform us about any changes). 
  • If we have not had contact from you and we have not seen your child/ren for 3 days, a home visit will be made by school staff to ensure the safety of you and your child/ren.  We will leave a letter to let you know that we have visited.  (If serious safeguarding concerns exist, a home visit may be made earlier than 3 days of absence).
  • If we have still not heard from you and we have not seen your child/ren for 5 school days, then a second home visit will take place.  If we still cannot make contact then we will report the pupil/s as Missing in Education and refer this to the Local Authority Attendance Compliance Team.  At this point the local Police and Social Care may also be contacted as we have a duty of care to ensure that the pupils on our school roll are safe. (If serious safeguarding concerns exist, a second home visit may be made earlier than 5 days of absence).
  • When staff complete home visits, if they cannot make contact with you and your child/ren, then they have the right to ask neighbours if they have seen you.  Again, this is to ensure the safety of your child/ren.   No personal details will be shared and confidentiality will be maintained at all times.  Essex Local Authority Attendance Compliance Team fully endorses this approach as part of our Safeguarding duties. 
  • We will always work in a supportive way with all our school families and try to find a way to help and support getting your child/ren into school.

 

If absence continues:

  • We will make contact if your child/ren have unauthorised absences recorded because you have failed to phone in or give a reason for the absence.
  • We will write to you if your child’s attendance falls below 96% or where punctuality is a concern.
  •  If your child/ren have 8 sessions (a session is half a day) of unauthorised absences recorded, then you will be asked to attend a meeting so that we can discuss any support that we can give you as well as making you aware of the legal proceedings that can follow if the number increases to 10 sessions of unauthorised absences.
  • We will create a personalised action/support plan to address any barriers to attendance
  • We will ask you in to school to discuss the situation with our Pupil Wellbeing Mentor, Senior Leader with responsibility for Attendance or Headteacher if absences persist
  • We can and will contact outside agencies, for example medical care, social emotional support, family support agencies if it is felt that this support is needed to help improve attendance for the child/ren.
  • We will refer the matter to the Local Authority to request a formal School Attendance Meeting for relevant sanctions if attendance does not improve or deteriorates following the above actions.  

 

Lateness

Poor punctuality is not acceptable and can contribute to further absence. Good time-keeping is a vital life skill which will help children as they progress through their school life and out into the wider world.

 

Pupils who arrive late disrupt lessons and, if a child misses the start of the day, they can feel unsettled and embarrassed, miss vital work and important messages from their class teacher. 

 

The times of the start and close of the school day for ALL pupils at Spring Meadow Primary School are:

Gates open: 8.40 am 

Registration closes: 8.50 am

End of the school day: 3.20 pm 

 

‘School House’ Nursery sessions are as follows:

Morning session: 8.30am to 11.30am

Afternoon session: 12.30pm to 3.30pm

 

 How we manage lateness: 

  • The school day starts at 8.40am when children can begin to come into school  
  • Registers are taken at 8.50am and your child will receive a late mark ‘L’ if they are not in by that time  
  • Children arriving after 8.50am are required to come into school via the school office. If accompanied by a parent/carer they must sign them into our ‘Late Book’ and provide a reason for their lateness which is recorded
  • At 9.20am the registers will be closed. In accordance with the Regulations, if your child arrives after that time, they will receive a mark that shows them to be on site - ‘U’, but this will not count as a present mark and it will mean they have an unauthorised absence.  
  • From time to time a member of school staff may undertake a ‘Late Gate’ check, greeting late arrivals at the main entrance to the school   
  • Unauthorised lateness could result in the school referring to the Local Authority for sanctions and/or legal proceedings.  If your child has a persistent late record, you will be asked to meet with our Pupil Wellbeing Mentor, Safeguarding Leader or Senior Leader with responsibility for Attendance, but you can approach us at any time if you are having difficulties getting your child to school on time.  We expect parents and staff to encourage good punctuality by being good role models to our children and celebrate good class and individual punctuality.   

 

 

Understanding barriers to attendance

Whilst any child may occasionally have time off school because they are too unwell to attend, sometimes they can be reluctant to attend school. Any barriers preventing regular attendance are best resolved between the school, the parents and the child. If a parent thinks their child is reluctant to attend school, then we will work with that family to understand the root problem and provide any necessary support. We can use outside agencies to help with this, such as the School Nurse, Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing support services, a Child and Family Support Worker or the relevant Local Authority team/s.  Where outside agencies are supporting the family, you may be invited to attend a Team Around the Family meeting (TAF) to consider what is working well and what needs to improve.  An individualised early help plan will be agreed and subsequently reviewed.

 

Some pupils face greater barriers to attendance than their peers.  These can include pupils who suffer from long-term medical conditions or who have special educational needs and disabilities, or other vulnerabilities.  High expectations of attendance remain however, we will work with families and pupils to support improved attendance whilst being mindful of the additional barriers faced.  We can discuss reasonable adjustments and additional support from external partners where appropriate. 

 

See Annex A for summary tables of responsibilities for school attendance. 

 

The name and contact details of the school staff member pupils and parents should contact for more detailed support on attendance :

 

Nicola Neal (Pupil Wellbeing Mentor)

attendance@springmeadow.essex.sch.uk 

01255 504528

 

Local Authority attendance support services

Local Authority Attendance Specialists work strategically by offering support to schools, families, and other professionals to reduce persistent absence and improve overall attendance.

 

Parents are expected to work with the school and local authority to address any attendance concerns.  Parents should proactively engage with the support offered, aiming to resolve any problems together. This is nearly always successful. If difficulties cannot be resolved in this way, the school may consider more formal support and/or refer the child to the Local Authority. If attendance does not improve, legal action may be taken in the form of a Penalty Notice (see Annex B for the Essex Code of Conduct), prosecution in the Magistrates Court or the application of an Education Supervision Order, designed to strengthen parental responsibilities and ensure improved attendance.



School Attendance and the Law

By law all children of compulsory school age must receive an appropriate full-time education (Education Act 1996).  Parents have a legal duty to ensure their child attends school regularly at the school at which they are registered.

 

Parents may be recognised differently under education law, than under family law. Section 576 of the Education Act 1996 states that a ‘parent’, in relation to a child or young person, includes any person who is not a parent (from which can be inferred ‘biological parent’) but who has parental responsibility, or who has care of the child.

 

A person typically has care of a child or young person if they are the person with whom the child lives, either full or part time and who looks after the child, irrespective of what their biological or legal relationship is with the child.

 

Unauthorised absence may result in the school referring to the Local Authority for sanctions and/or legal proceedings.  This may include issuing each parent with a Penalty Notice for £120, reduced to £60 if paid within 21 days or referring the matter to the Magistrates Court whereby each parent may receive a fine up to £2500 and/or up to 3 months in prison. If a parent is found guilty in court, they will receive a criminal conviction.

 

See Annex B for the Essex Code of Conduct.

 

There is no entitlement in law for pupils to take time off during the term to go on holiday. In addition, the Supreme Court has ruled that the definition of regular school attendance is “in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school”.

 

The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 were amended in September 2013.  All references to family holidays and extended leave have been removed. The amendments specify that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are "exceptional circumstances" and they no longer have any discretion to authorise up to ten days of absence each academic year.

 

It is a rule of this school that a leave of absence shall not be granted in term time unless there are reasons considered to be exceptional by the headteacher, irrespective of the child’s overall attendance.  Only the headteacher or his/her designate (not the local authority) may authorise such a request and all applications for a leave of absence must be made in writing on the prescribed form provided by the school. Where a parent removes a child when the application for leave was refused or where no application was made to the school, the issue of a penalty notice may be requested by this school in accordance with the Essex Code of Conduct.

 

A Penalty Notice may be issued where there have been at least 10 consecutive sessions of unauthorised absence for the purpose of a holiday, however, due to the importance of pupils settling into school at the commencement of the school year, Penalty Notices may also be issued if there have been at least 6 consecutive sessions of unauthorised absence during the first two calendar weeks of September due to a term-time holiday.

At Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery,  'exceptional circumstances' will be interpreted as:

"being of unique and significant emotional, educational or spiritual value to the child which outweighs the loss of teaching time" (as determined by the headteacher). The fundamental principles for defining ‘exceptional’ are events that are “rare, significant, unavoidable and short”. By 'unavoidable' we mean an event that could not reasonably be scheduled at another time, outside of school term time. 

 

We will not consider applications for leave during term time:

  • at any time in September. This is very important as your child needs to settle into their new class at the start of the academic year as quickly as possible.
  • during assessment and test periods in the school’s calendar affecting your child.  
  • when a pupil’s attendance record already includes any level of unauthorised absence or they have already been granted authorised leave within that academic year. 

 

If leave of absence is authorised, the school will not provide work for children to do during their absence.  Parents are however advised to read with their children and encourage them to write a diary while they are away.

 

Deletion from Roll

For any pupil leaving Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery, other than at the end of year 6, parents/carers are required to complete a ‘Pupils moving from Spring Meadow Primary School' form which can be obtained from the school office.  This provides the school with the following information: Child’s name, class, current address, date of leaving, new home address, name of new school, address of new school.  This information is essential to ensure that we know the whereabouts and appropriately safeguard all of our pupils, even those who leave us. 

 

It is crucial that parents keep school updated with current addresses and contact details for key family members in case of emergency.

 

Under Pupil Regulations 2006, all schools are now legally required to notify their Local Authority of every new entry to the admission register within five days of the pupil being enrolled. In addition to this, every deletion from the school register must also be notified to the Local Authority, as soon as the ground for deletion has been met in relation to that pupil, and in any event no later than the time at which the pupil’s name is deleted from the register.  This duty does not apply when a pupil’s name is removed from the admission register at a standard transition point – when the pupil has completed the final year of education normally provided by that school.

 

Absence data

We use data to monitor, identify and support individual pupils or groups of pupils when their attendance needs to improve.  Persistently absent pupils are tracked and monitored carefully. We also combine this with academic tracking as increased absence affects attainment.

 

We 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.

 

Summary

The school has a legal duty to publish its absence figures to parents and to promote attendance. 

 

Equally, parents have a duty to make sure that their children attend school, on time, every day. 

 

All school staff and the Governing Body are committed to working with parents and pupils as this is the best way to ensure as high a level of attendance at our school as possible.


 

Annex A: DfE guidance Summary table of responsibilities for school attendance. Sept 2022

 

 



 

 


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