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Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery
Pupil Attendance Policy
The name and contact details of the senior leader responsible for the strategic approach to attendance in our school is:
Mrs Emma Donegan
The name and contact details of the school staff member pupils and parents should contact about attendance on a day-to-day basis is:
Ms Sapphire Davids
The name and contact details of the Inclusion Team member pupils and parents should contact for more individual support with attendance
Ms Nicola Neal
The name and contact details of the Governor responsible for the strategic approach to attendance in our school is:
Mr Andy Johnson
Introduction and Background
The Governors and staff at Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery are united in their belief that regular school attendance is the key to enabling children to maximise the educational opportunities available to them. Helping them to become emotionally resilient, confident and competent adults who are able to realise their full potential and make a positive contribution to their community.
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 another education route.
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.
This policy is written with the above guidance in mind and underpins our school ethos to:
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.
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
Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ nursery values all children. As set out in this policy we will work with families to identify the barriers to achieving and maintaining excellent attendance and offer the right service at the right time to try to resolve any difficulties. 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 Attendance Senior Leader (Mrs Donegan), Safeguarding and Attendance Lead (Ms Neal) and Attendance Officer (Ms Davids), supported by the Inclusion Team, will monitor attendance and use attendance data to identify any patterns of concern. They will also celebrate success! Attendance concerns will be raised with parents if the reasons are not known by the school. This information may also be shared with the Local Authority. Where we have concerns, or lack of engagement from families to improve attendance, we will follow the school’s escalated approach to improving attendance. The school's escalated approach is child-centred and prioritises support and developing strong working relationships with families. We will use the early help process to provide support prior to escalation and consider how we can work with families to enable your child to access their right to education.
Our aim is to always work in partnership with parents and any referral for consideration of a penalty notice is deemed to be a last resort at Spring Meadow. Attendance figures for each child will be reported to parents as part of the annual report. We will also share a child’s attendance profile if we have concerns regarding a child’s attendance. Throughout the school year the Attendance Team will report on the overall attendance figures for different groups of children, this will be closely monitored for support and reported to the Governing Body.
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/carer), 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 to:
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/carers to resolve this.
Serious Absenteeism (SA)
Any child who has missed 50% of sessions is now known as a serious absentee and we would consider this to be a safeguarding and legal issue.
To support good attendance, and safeguarding, at Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery, we:
A whole school approach to supporting attendance at Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery
Securing good attendance at Spring Meadow cannot be achieved in isolation, and effective practices for improvement will involve working closely with other Leaders within the school. The Senior Attendance Leader (who is also our SENCo) will work alongside the Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher, Behaviour Leader and Phase Leaders to facilitate a whole school approach.
The Strategic Approach
Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery adopts the 5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice framework, this is modelled on the work of Professor Katherine Weare. The emphasis is on developing a school culture and climate which builds a sense of connectedness and belonging to ensure all children can attend school and thrive. The approach ensures we prioritise building solid working relationships with children, and parents, prior to escalation. The staged approach we follow ensures we identify triggers early that can lead to poor attendance issues such as mental health issues, lack of trust, communication and relationship breakdowns and the possible lack of networking opportunities both internal (in-school) and external (external agencies).
Aims of the 5 Foundations strategy
The 5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice
The main aim of the framework is to ensure the school promotes a culture of good attendance and celebrates success. Ultimately, the framework will ensure there is a culture of feeling safe and school being a place where children want to be.
Positive health and emotional well-being are key factors in improving social development, school attendance and educational achievement. The 5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice model promotes, and supports, a whole school approach to mental health and emotional well-being; ensuring SEMH support remains a key driver in improving attendance for all children.
Each Foundation is supported by 5 Key Performance Indicators, these are used to ensure the school can embed the Foundations framework and understand the strategic direction regarding attendance improvement. Each year the school will use the 5 Foundations self-assessment tool to understand what works well and identify what we need to do even better. We then follow the 5 Foundations school improvement process to implement the attendance plan and ultimately improve the lives of children and families we work with.
The school has a fully embedded ethos in which excellent school attendance is expected, developed and nurtured. The escalated approach to supporting attendance is built on foundations of belonging and connectedness.
The approach to improving attendance is built on clear policies, systems and processes. This ensures continuous and sustainable improvement drives attendance practice. The attendance policy is understood by all stakeholders and allows the school to set, and maintain, high expectations to improve the culture of attendance.
The school prioritises developing a team of attendance experts, with a shared vision and core purpose. The Attendance Leader delivers bespoke training to support all staff to fully understand their role in improving attendance. External partnerships support attendance improvements through a multi-disciplinary approach for identified children and families.
Data information and analysis direct resources proactively towards key demographic groups and identified individuals. The expert use of data analysis informs decision making at all levels. The attendance process ensures the Attendance Leader understands the reason for attendance concerns, these barriers can then be successfully supported and removed.
Connecting and belonging drives the school approach to supporting attendance. All staff are supported to understand 'deeper roots' regarding poor attendance concerns. The school has developed, and embedded, an effective rewards system to further drive attendance improvements and celebrate success.
DFE: Working Together To Improve Attendance 2022.
From September 2022 the DFE: Working together to improve school attendance - GOV.UK paper will replace all previous guidance on school attendance except for statutory guidance for parental responsibility measures. The Secretary of State has committed to it becoming statutory when parliamentary time allows (this will be no sooner than September 2023).
The table below identifies how the 5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice will underpin the DFE 2022 paper.
Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery will always work in partnership with our parents/carers
Spring Meadow Primary School and ‘School House’ Nursery recognises that poor attendance is often an indication of difficulties in a child’s life and their lived experience. This may be related to problems at home or in school. Parents/carers should inform the school of any difficulties or changes in circumstances that may affect their child’s attendance and or behaviour in school, for example, bereavement, divorce/separation, incidents of domestic abuse. This will help the school to identify any additional early help that may be required. Safeguarding is a priority, concerns for any child at any time will be reported to the Designated Senior Leads for Child Protection Ms Neal or Mrs Donegan. We will always follow Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 and our Child Protection Policy.
Some children are more likely to require additional support to attain good attendance, for example, children who are vulnerable, have a medical need or EHCP plan will be monitored and supported in school. At Spring Meadow we will proactively identify and follow up on a child’s non-attendance and gather information about the child. This will result in taking early action to prevent non-attendance developing and monitoring the impact of targeted support.
The Attendance Officer will initially:
Attendance Escalated Support Map.
This shows how our intervention and support will be stepped up in accordance with the number of days of schooling missed. We will always support children during each stage of our Attendance Escalated Support Map. If there is lack of engagement, or concerns regarding the reason for absence, we will follow the Attendance Map to ensure we prioritise a child’s learning and right to education.
Absence can also be reported using the Studybugs Attendance App which is an efficient and secure system for reporting your child’s absence due to illness. Parents can get the free Studybugs app, or register on the Studybugs website, and use it to tell us whenever their child is ill and unable to attend school.
We thoroughly monitor all absences, and the reasons that are given.
Notification by phone
The name and contact details of the school staff member pupils and parents should contact about attendance on a day to day basis is:
Ms Sapphire Davids
If a child is absent from school the parent (or other adult living at the premises) must follow these procedures:
If your child is absent we will:
If absence continues:
As a school we are governed by the Local authority and as such we are directed in our approach to attendance for all our pupils. Therefore, in line with the Local Authorities advice if your child has had 19 days or more off school during this academic school year and is therefore classed as a persistent absentee, or is at risk of becoming a persistent absentee, there will be no further authorised absence unless medical evidence can be provided and this may include:
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:
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.
First Day Contact
At Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery we expect our parents to make contact at the earliest opportunity on the first day of any absence. We will always contact you via text message or by calling you. Where we have on-going concerns regarding your child’s attendance, we will visit your home address and write to you. We may even invite you to meet with a member of staff to discuss any on-going concerns regarding attendance. It is important that you talk to us first; you are legally responsible under Education Act 1996 for ensuring that your child is in school every day and on time. If we cannot make contact with you, we will continue to make announced and unannounced home visits, regarding any concerns we may have surrounding attendance at Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery.
Parents are responsible for securing full-time education
Parents/carers are responsible for ensuring their children receive a full-time education. Each situation will be dealt with on an individual basis, fairly and equitably always remembering the welfare and safety of the child is the paramount concern.
The term ‘parent’ includes those who are not a natural parent but have parental responsibility for the child as defined by the Children’s Act 1989 or have care of the child as defined by the Education Act 1996.
Please view the list of responsibilities and expectations regarding parents/carers.
Examples of unsatisfactory explanations include:
Doors open for children at 08:40 am, the class register will close at 08:50 am. Children arriving after the close of registration will be recorded as late. Late marks will not be authorised and will count as an absence for the school AM session. Punctuality is recorded and this will be added to your child’s record of attendance, a letter will be sent to parents/carers regarding attendance concerns of a child as these concerns arise throughout the school year. If a child arrives at school from 09:10 am they will be U coded.
The absence will only be authorised if a satisfactory explanation for the late arrival can be provided, for example, attendance at a medical appointment.
The absence will be recorded as unauthorised if a child has arrived late without justifiable cause, for example they woke up late or were waiting for their uniform to dry.
Transition following long term absence or illness
Absence can significantly interrupt the continuity of children’s learning.
During any long-term absence, Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery will:
Leave during Term Time
From 1st September 2013, the Government amended the England (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006. Head teachers may only grant leave in ‘exceptional circumstances’ only. Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery observes Essex County Councils ‘Leave in Term Time Guidance for schools and Academies’.
Parents/carers wishing to apply for leave during term time must send a written request for the attention of the Headteacher before making any arrangements. Retrospective requests will not be considered and therefore will result in the absence being categorised as unauthorised. Each leave during term time request will be considered on an individual basis.
If a child fails to return and contact with the parent has not been made or received, school may take the child off the school’s roll in compliance with the Education (Pupil registration, England) Regulations 2006. This means that the child may lose their school place.
If the permission to take leave is not granted and the child is still absent from school, the absence will be unauthorised. In such cases the school may consider legal action.
Only in exceptional circumstances will absence be agreed. In such cases, consideration will be given to the cultural needs and the family circumstances, such as minority ethnic children returning to their country of origin. In these cases, granting leave for longer periods than normal may be considered justified. In all cases though, parents/carers will be required to justify why the leave needs to be taken during term time.
Using attendance data
Children’s attendance will be monitored and shared with other agencies and the DfE.
Weekly attendance meetings will be held between the Attendance Leader and the Attendance Team. Meetings will focus on agreed actions for those children of concern. The purpose of each meeting will be to understand the progress the school is making when supporting identified individuals or groups of children.
Attendance data will be used to identify emerging patterns and trends to inform whole school strategies to improve attendance and attainment.
It is the responsibility of school Governors to challenge and support the school regarding overall attendance, regular reports will be presented to this body. The governors will therefore examine closely the information provided for them and seek to ensure that our attendance figures are as high as can be.
Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that the parent/carer of every child of compulsory school age receives efficient full-time education suitable to their age, aptitude and ability and any special educational needs they may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
A child is of compulsory school age at the beginning of the term following their 5th birthday.
Under the Education Act 1996, the Local Authority has a statutory responsibility to ensure that parents secure education for children of compulsory school age and where necessary, use legal enforcement. Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery recognises Essex County Council’s approach to attendance and will implement prosecution where it is fair and equitable to do so.
In accordance with the regulations regarding pupils’ attendance at school, Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery keeps an attendance register on which at the beginning of each morning and afternoon session children are marked present or absent. The marks are electronically processed and stored on the school’s central administrative system. This information is shared with the Department for Education.
There are several sanctions that the school can take to address the issue of non-attendance. To try and identify the reason for absence we will always talk to you first to identify the reason for absence. Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery will always ensure the escalated process map is followed, focusing on the support a child needs at each stage (please access on the school website). However, for lack of engagement in attendance support there are sanctions that will be followed:
Penalty Notices (Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003)
Penalty Notices will be considered when:
Penalty Notices will be used in accordance with Essex County Council Code of Conduct.
Where intervention through the school’s process fails to bring about an improvement in attendance, the local authority will be notified and legal proceedings in the Magistrates Court may be taken. The school will provide the Local Authority with evidence required for a prosecution under section 444/4441 (a) of the Education Act 1996 and will appear as a prosecution witness if required by the court. This is to ensure that parents/carers realise their own responsibilities in ensuring their child’s attendance at school.
chools, trusts and local authorities are expected to work together and make use of the full range of legal interventions rather than relying solely on fixed penalty notices or prosecution. It is for individual schools and local authorities to decide whether to use them in an individual case after considering the individual circumstances of a family. These are:
• Parenting contracts
• Education supervision orders
• Attendance prosecution
• Parenting orders
• Fixed penalty notices
Please refer to section 6 of the DFE ‘Working Together to Improve School Attendance 2022’ for more information.
Children Missing Education (CME) are a vulnerable group of children. All agencies who work with children have a duty to support the Local Authority in ensuring all children are safe and looked after appropriately.
CME includes those children who are missing (family whereabouts unknown), and are children who are registered on a school roll / alternative provision. This might be a child who is not at their last known address and either
It is our responsibility as a school to work with the LA Education and Inclusion team, by making referrals.
At Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery we feel it is important to notify parents/carers of our whole school attendance percentage in our newsletter and advise you when we have school attendance campaign weeks. The weekly attendance challenge allows classes to celebrate their collective attendance successes. When a class achieves a set attendance percentage or above, they will receive a token when they collect a set number of tokens, they can enjoy a treat afternoon!
Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery will always challenge falling attendance and celebrate improvements. We are committed to the future of all children that attend Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery, and by working in partnership with the school community we believe that together we can achieve more!
We can only achieve this by working in partnership with you, if you have any concerns or anything that prevents your child from attending Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery please contact Mrs Emma Donegan Inclusion Leader and Senior Attendance Leader.
Other Policies supporting attendance.
Teaching and Learning Policy.
Pupil Premium Statement.
Roles and Responsibilities
Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery expectations – Parents/Carers:
Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery expectations – Children:
The Class Teachers are the key staff members in promoting regular punctual attendance. The Class Teacher will:
The Inclusion Team takes responsibility for monitoring the attendance of children and regularly promotes the importance of attendance and punctuality. They will:
The Attendance Officer is responsible for regularly checking attendance data and ensuring data is accurate and up to date. The Attendance Officer will:
Spring Meadow Primary School & ‘School House’ Nursery expectations – Attendance Leader
The Senior Leader responsible for Attendance will promote good attendance and punctuality. They will:
The Education Act 1996
The Children Act 1989
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998
The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003
The Education and Inspections Act 2006
The Sentencing Act 2020 The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006
The Education (Parenting Contracts and Parenting Orders) (England) Regulations 2007
The Education (Penalty Notices) (England) Regulations 2007
Relevant government guidance
Parental responsibility measures for attendance and behaviour
Children missing education
Keeping children safe in education 2022
Working together to safeguard children
Elective home education
Alternative provision: statutory guidance for local authorities
Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England
Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions
Ensuring a good education for children who cannot attend school because of health needs
Promoting and supporting mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges
Approaches to preventing and tackling bullying