Please ensure that your child arrives to school promptly. Poor attendance significantly impacts negatively on pupil outcomes.
At Crossgates we take attendance very seriously and it is directly linked to Safeguarding. There are the procedures we have in place and we would like you to follow these guidelines.
It is Crossgates Primary School’s policy to actively discourage late arrival. School starts promptly at 8.55am. School doors are open from 8.45am and pupils are expected to be in class and ready to learn by 8.55am. School gates close at 9.00am sharp.
A pupil arriving late may seriously disrupt not only his or her continuity of learning but also that of others.
For registration to mean anything at all, a firm line must be taken on late arrivals. To do otherwise undermines the whole purpose of registration and may serve to encourage other pupils to arrive late. Particular attention will be paid to emerging patterns of late arrival. Where a pupil does arrive late and misses’ registration, his or her presence on site will still need to be noted. Anyone arriving late must enter school via the main entrance and register at the school office, providing the reason for absence.
In responding to lateness, we will of course need to take account of the individual circumstances of each case. In some instances, the Education Welfare Officer may need to seek an early meeting with parents of pupils who persistently fail to arrive on time without valid reason whilst keeping the Head Teacher informed. If the parents do not have any valid reason for the child’s persistent lateness the Education Welfare Officer will consult with the Local Authority.
It is the parent’s responsibility to inform school of the reason for a child’s absence. We would like to receive notification as soon as the child is absent from school. We ask that the parent telephones the school office before 8.45am on the first day of absence and each subsequent day their child is absent to report the reason for the absence. Our phone system operates a pupil absence line (Option1) which is available 24hrs. When reporting that your child is ill, unwell or poorly please state your child’s full name, class and the reason for absence in full e.g. chicken pox, flu etc.
In the instance of sickness or diarrhoea, your child must not return to school until 48 hours after the last episode, but you must still contact school on every day of absence.
If a pupil is absent for a prolonged period or the School notices a pattern emerging, early contact will be made with the Local Authority Education Welfare Service and/or School Health Service for further investigation.
Where there is doubt about the authenticity of absence attributed to illness, the School’s Education Welfare Officer may attempt to refer the matter to the School Health Service to arrange a special medical, or to make contact with the pupil’s GP.
When making appointments we ask parents to make these, where possible, before or after school hours however if this is not possible we expect your child to be in school before and after the appointment to minimise the impact on their education.
Attendance and Absence
Absenteeism, Persistent Absenteeism and the issuing of fines / Court Orders
Firstly, I will make clear that it is not the school’s policy, but that of the Department of Education, to issue fines (also known as fixed penalties) for persistent absenteeism; I do however understand the necessity to do so in some cases.
It is the Department of Education/Ofsted that dictate attendance below 95% is poor and that below 90% is ‘persistent absenteeism’. The reasons for this have been made clear before; good attendance is vital for the success of pupils and their wellbeing. Our own school data, as well as that issued nationally, makes clear that poor attendance results in poorer outcomes for children.
Children must attend school under the Education Act 1989 (revised). Poor attendance at school can result in one or more of the following:
- a Parenting Order
- an Education Supervision Order
- a School Attendance Order
- a fine (sometimes known as a ‘penalty notice’)
They are only children; does it really matter?
YES! The fact is that children who attend school for less than 95% of the time underperform significantly and have ominously reduced lifetime opportunities.
But my child has been ill and I have told you this?
Absence is absence, and impacts on a child’s learning and wellbeing, regardless of the reason. This is clear in the actions taken under national policy. Whilst I have utter respect for parents who state that absence has been a result of specific unavoidable illness, this does not negate the fact that their child has been impacted by it, or that the policy applies to all. A child, who is absent due to intermittent illness, has missed the same amount of time as a child who has been absent as a result of a parent’s failure to bring them to school for unauthorised reasons.
If a parent is subjected to a fine, this can be appealed against on medical grounds, but it should be noted that the absence is not ignored owing to circumstance and may not be seen as ‘good reason’ in court without specific, long term, medical support and evidence.
To be clear, under policy and in reality, absence through illness has the same impact as absence for any other reason and as such is included in your child’s absence figures. This is a national requirement.
So, are you saying you want me to bring my child into school when they are ill?
No. But I do ask parents to consider carefully if absence is really necessary. We are not medical practitioners and cannot make decisions on behalf of health professionals, or indeed parents – the choice is yours.
My child always attends school, yet you say that there are ‘unauthorised absences’, how can this be?
If your child arrives late, beyond the close of register, the late mark is converted to an unauthorised absence. Again, this is a national requirement, not the school’s. This is done because too much time in school has been missed. Arrive late and children may be considered absent; arrive persistently late, and it is easy to fall below the expectation.
I cannot afford a fine, how will I pay the school?
Firstly, fines are not issued by, or paid to the school – despite what you may have read on social media or in popular press. The courts issue fines and the revenue is taken by them. If you cannot pay a fine, this is a matter for the courts and is dealt with in line with any other unpaid debts to the Crown. The school has no say in this.
I will not pay the fine, what can they do to me?
Simply put, the fine increases to up to £2500. If you continue not to pay, you can get up to a 3 month prison sentence.
I did not realise this and I have received a letter re my child’s absence. What can I do?
Crossgates Primary School is here to help you when and where we can.
- The first step is to attend the meeting and work with the school. This will be your chance to seek support if there are underlying reasons for the absences. Whilst we cannot act on your behalf, we can point you in the right direction and look to see if there is anything we can do to help.
- Recognise that there is an issue, and do all you can to reverse any absence trends. This may be easier said than done, but it cannot be ignored for your child’s sake. It is never too late.
- Act promptly if you receive notices, attendance letters and/or court notices. They will not go away.
I wish to end by stating that it is my duty as Headteacher to address poor attendance and the duty of my Governing Board to hold me accountable for it. The vast majority of parents at Crossgates Primary School ensure their children attend in line with the expectation and I am grateful for this, as are my staff.
I cannot however ignore poor attendance in my school. It is a stark and frightening fact that whilst we are driving up standards across the school, many are missing out on and suffering as a result. This has a negative impact on the children and the wider school.
We have always had a firm stance on attendance matters and will continue to do so and I know that the wider community supports this. Your actions are appreciated.
Requesting term time absence
Guidance and legislation for headteachers, issued by the Department for Education (DfE), on 'in term holidays' were changed in 2013.
Parents are legally responsible for ensuring their children receive education in accordance with section 7 of the Education Act 1996 and if on a school roll that they regularly attend school.
Can the Headteacher authorize my holiday?
The Headteacher cannot, and will not, authorize school absence solely for the purpose of a family holiday. There may be many reasons for which a family may wish to plan a holiday in term time, including restrictions at work or financial opportunities, however, these do not over ride the constraints placed on Headteachers not to authorize ‘family holidays’.
Parent commonly site the recent Court of Appeal case in the Isle of White, which overturned a Local Authority's issue of a fine. It should be noted that this DOES NOT alter the guidance and legislation for in term absence for headteachers, as this was linked to the Local Authority's right to fine. The parent lost the appeal in June 2017 and was given a conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £2000 in fines .
I want to take my child out of school at term time, and I think my reasons are exceptional. Can the school help?
There is a discretionary power held by Headteachers to authorize absence in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Although the DfE do not define ‘exceptional’, circumstances may include, for example:
- Service personnel returning from a tour of duty abroad where it is evidenced the individual will not be in receipt of any leave in the near future that coincides with school holidays.
- Where an absence from school is recommended by a health professional as part of a parent or child’s rehabilitation from a medical or emotional issue.
- The death or terminal illness of a person close to the family.
- To attend a wedding or funeral of a person close to the family.
Please note: a family holiday is not an exceptional circumstance. We advise that you do not plan for your child to be absent from school without gaining prior agreement from their school first.
If a request meets the above exceptional circumstances but falls within the following times, the Headteacher must be convinced that absence from school is the only option:
1) The first half term of any academic year (applies to all pupils)
2) Year six transition day (for pupils in year six only)
3) SATs week (for pupils in year six)
4) At any time other time specified by the school which is identified to parents prior to application.
NOTE: Attendance records taken for a pupil over a 12 month rolling period, that falls below 95%, is deemed poor attendance.
How long will I be given under exceptional circumstances?
Exceptional circumstances can only be authorized for the period in which the exceptional circumstance occurs and will not be extended beyond the minimum time required to attend. For example, the attendance at a funeral of a close family member may be authorized for the day of the event and time taken to travel. Any other time, before or after the event, will not be authorized. This includes events ‘overseas’.
What else may impact on authorisation?
The Headteacher will not authorize absences if they believe it is to the detriment of a child’s education or if they have concerns that attendance is already a concern.
I forgot to inform the school that my child would be absent, can it be authorized on return?
The Headteacher will not retrospectively authorize absence from school.
What else do I need to know?
If your request is authorised, you are required to ensure your child catches up on any missed school work.
This is your responsibility and school are not obliged to provide work for your child to complete under such circumstances
What happens if I either take absence without requesting it, or if I do not abide by the judgment of the school?
Any unauthorized absence will be recorded on your child’s attendance records which will be submitted to the Local Authority. This may result in legal proceedings against you, either through a Penalty Notice or the Magistrates’ Court.
If your request is declined, and you still take your child out of school, each parent within your household will be issued with a £60 penalty notice for each child you have taken out of school.
If a penalty notice remains unpaid after 21 days it will increase to £120. If after 28 days it remains unpaid you may be summonsed to appear before Magistrates to explain why your child has unauthorized school absences and you may be liable for a fine of up to £1000.
How do I apply for ‘Exceptional Circumstances / in term absence?
If you feel you have an exceptional circumstance you must complete an ‘Exceptional Circumstances – In term absence request’ from, which will be reviewed by the Headteacher. In addition, you may also be required speak to the Headteacher.
Note: You may be requested to provide evidence to support your application.