St. Stephen’s CE Primary School seeks to ensure that all its pupils receive an education which maximises opportunities for each pupil to realise his/her true potential. The school will strive to provide a welcoming, caring environment, whereby each member of the school community feels wanted and secure.
We believe that all students benefit from the education we provide, and therefore from regular attendance. The aim of our attendance policy is to provide a consistent practice that encourages and facilitates the regular attendance of all pupils.
As a controlled school we are required to comply with DfE regulations regarding the reporting of pupil attendance and whilst the majority of pupils attend school regularly, we are required to follow up any cases of poor attendance in line with current legislation. The following information is designed to explain our attendance policies and the procedures which we have to follow in more detail.
If your child is genuinely unwell please keep him/her at home until risk of infection to others has passed, this will be recorded as an ‘authorised’ absence. If children are sent into school when they are clearly unwell, then much time is spent by staff trying to contact parents, which only distresses a poorly child.
If your child will be absent from school for any reason, please telephone the school office. Absence messages can be left on the school answerphone by choosing ‘option 1’. As the office can be very busy on a morning it is preferred that parents use this option to leave a message regarding absence and this will be picked up by staff as soon as possible.
Class registration begins at 9.00am and ends at 9.15am. If your child is not marked on the register as being present by 9.15am then they will be given an ‘unauthorised’ absence mark unless a reason for their absence has already been provided. If we have not been notified of your child’s absence by 9.15am you will receive a text from the school office requesting a reason. If we do not receive a response from this, a letter will then be sent home requesting you to provide a valid reason for your child’s absence. If we still do not receive a valid reason for your child’s absence it then we have to record it as ‘unauthorised’.
In cases where a child is continually absent due to illness and we have concerns about the validity of the information provided by parents, we may request that parents provide medical evidence in order for the absence to be authorised.
We wish to avoid these situations wherever possible and we do appreciate that children are often genuinely unwell. We would be grateful for your support in ensuring that we receive reasons for absence as soon as possible so that we can keep accurate records. If you ever have any queries or concerns about your child’s attendance please speak to a member of our school office staff.
There may be times when your child is late for school; I would rather see your child late than miss a whole morning. However, being consistently late gives your child poor values and attitudes and we greatly appreciate parental support in ensuring your child is in school for registration at 9.00am. If your child is late for school after registers have closed at 9.15am and we have not received a valid reason then we have to record the absence as ‘unauthorised’.
Please remember that school gates are open from 8.45am for children to come into school, please do not send your child into school earlier than this as the yard is unsupervised before this time and school cannot be responsible for any children on the yard at this time. If you need your child to be at school earlier, we do have a breakfast club which is open from 8.00am at a cost of £1.50 per day.
Current procedures dictate that if a child has more than 10 sessions (5 school days) of ‘unauthorised’ absences in a 12 week rolling period, they must be referred to the Local Authority Attendance and Improvement team and they will then receive a warning letter. If absences continue and a child has more than 14 sessions (7 school days) of ‘unauthorised’ absence then they will be referred again and may receive a Fixed Penalty Notice.
In accordance with DfE regulations we must publish information concerning unauthorised absences. On the reports sent out to parents each term there will be a record of the number of authorised and unauthorised absences of your child.
As part of our attendance policy we are required to notify parents if a child’s attendance falls below 95%. We send out letters each half term to notify you if your child’s attendance is below this level. These letters are not necessarily anything to worry about and in most cases are for information only as your child may have had a genuine illness which caused their percentage to drop. If school are concerned about persistent and prolonged absence then we may request that parents attend a meeting with the Headteacher to discuss attendance. In more severe cases we may also refer a child to the Local Authority Attendance Improvement Team who may then take further action. We are pleased to say that such referrals are rare and we will always work closely with parents to address any attendance issues before placing any referrals.
Our school day ends at 3.15pm for children in Year 1 to Year 6 and at 3.10pm for Reception children. Please ensure your child is collected promptly at the end of the day. Nothing is more upsetting for a child (especially a young child) if you are late.
For safety reasons, children from Reception to Year 4 must not be allowed to walk home alone but should be collected by an adult at the end of the day. We do allow children in Year 5 and Year 6 to walk home with parents permission. Parents must complete and return a form before children will be allowed to walk home alone.
If a different adult than usual is collecting your child, please telephone the school office to inform us. We would kindly ask that you notify us of this as soon as possible during the day so that we can inform class teachers in good time.
Holidays during Term Time
There have been significant changes in the law concerning term time leave of absence and Head Teachers are not able to grant any leave of absence during term time unless they feel that there are ‘exceptional circumstances’. The dictionary definition of ‘exceptional’ is ‘unusual’ or ‘rare’.
Where leave is granted, Head Teachers must decide the number of school days they can authorise for a child to be away from school however this can be no more than 7 days. Schools are legally bound to refer any unauthorised absence of more than 7 days to the Local Authority as this is the trigger point for Fixed Penalty Notice action.
Head Teachers must look at each case on its individual merits and we use the following guidance to make our decision as to whether we deem the circumstances to be ‘exceptional’:
• Parental employment circumstances (service personnel, other work commitments).
If the dates requested are the only time a parent can get holidays from work, we will require a letter from your employer stating this, however, we will only authorise a leave of absence for these circumstances on one occasion. It is then up to parents to ensure that any future holidays are arranged out of term time.
Families who request holidays in term time every year will not have their leave of absence authorised. We will also not authorise any holidays which fall in the first two weeks of a new school year or during the week of KS2 SAT’s.
• Compassionate circumstances (significant family illness, bereavement, funeral, family crisis). Such cases will be assessed on an individual basis.
• Other ‘one off’ unusual circumstances / events (wedding, christening, graduation).
Cases will be assessed on an individual basis however if a request is made for time off to attend a wedding we will usually only authorise one day as we cannot authorise any additional time for travelling.
The following circumstances that are not considered ‘exceptional’:
• Availability of cheap holidays and cheap travel arrangements.
• Days overlapping with the beginning or end of term.
• Birthday of pupil or family member.
• Poor weather experienced in school holiday periods.
Parents should be aware that if you take leave of absence during term time without making a prior application to the school, or if you make an application but your requested leave of absence is not authorised and you still take the child out of school, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised. Similarly, if you keep your child away from school for longer than agreed/authorised, the excess absence will be recorded as unauthorised.
Current procedures dictate that if a child has more than 14 sessions (7 school days) of ‘unauthorised’ absence then they will be referred to the Local Authority Attendance Improvement Team and may receive a Fixed Penalty Notice. NB: Unauthorised absences also include any other ‘non-holiday’ days when a child may have been absent without reason.
If you wish to make an application for your child’s term time leave of absence, you must fill out an application form, which can be requested from school office. The application form asks you to outline the reasons why you feel your application for leave of absence during term time should be regarded as ‘exceptional.’ Following the submission of your application, you will be notified as soon as possible of the School’s decision.
We are required by law to report unauthorised absences to the Local Authority, who will issue a Fixed Penalty Notice, which means a parent may be fined by the Education Welfare Service. The regulations do stipulate that fixed penalty fines will be issued and parents must pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days. (NB: fines are issued by the Local Authority and school does not receive any monies from this process)
We must also make parents aware that due to equalities legislation, fixed penalty notices will now be issued to all parents who have parental responsibility and whom can be traced. This means that both the Father and Mother of a child will receive separate fines, under the new regulations, and that each parent will incur a fine for each child.