Attendance at school is very important to us at Bitterley School. Attendance across the school in 2019/2020 before March was 95.1%.
The Law states:
“The parent of every child of statutory school age is compelled by law to ensure such a child attends school unless there is a reasonable excuse for non-attendance. Failure to do so may result in legal action being taken against you.”
Staff and Governors expect full and punctual attendance from all students.
Parents/carers of registered students have a legal duty under the Education Act 1996 to make sure that children of compulsory school age attend school on a regular and full-time basis. Permitting unauthorised absence from school is an offence and parents/carers may be reported to the Education Access Service of the Local Authority if problems cannot be resolved by agreement.
Every half-day absence from school has to be classified by the school (not parents/carers) as either authorised or unauthorised. This is why information about the cause of each absence is always requested.
- There is a link between regular attendance and academic achievement
- Regular attendance encourages students to benefit from the whole range of curricular and extra-curricular opportunities on offer
- Full attendance is a duty, and a crucial factor in determining personal responsibility and a good work ethic.
Authorised absences are mornings or afternoons away from school for a good reason (i.e. illness or other unavoidable cause).
Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider reasonable and for which no“leave” has been given. This includes keeping children off school unnecessarily, truancy and absences which have not been properly explained.
Any problems with regular attendance are best sorted out between the school, parents/carers and student. Students who are regularly absent will be referred to the relevant authority. Outside agencies may also be involved. If all ways of trying to improve the student’s attendance have failed, court proceedings can be used to prosecute parents/carers or to seek an Education Supervision Order.
The school applies the following procedures in deciding how to deal with individual absences:
- 1. Illness and Other Legitimate Reasons
If a student is unfit for school parents/carers are asked to contact the school on each day of absence by 10.00am. Other reasons for absence must be discussed with the school on a case by case basis. It is not appropriate for the school to authorise absences for shopping, looking after younger children, day trips, hairdressers appointments, etc. Leave may, however, be granted in an emergency (e.g. bereavement) or for medical appointments which take place during school time. In exceptional circumstances further evidence of a student’s illness, such as a doctor’s note, may be requested.
- 2. Absence Without Explanation
If a pupil is absent at morning registration and the school has not received an explanation by 10.00am the we will contact the parent/carer the same day by text, telephone or email.
- 3. Holidays
The school is proactive in discouraging parents/carers from taking students out of school for holidays during term time.
With effect from 1st September 2013 there has been a change in the School Attendance Regulations. Where there used to be the option for Headteachers to grant leave of absence for the purpose of a family holiday during the term time in “special circumstances” this has been removed.
Headteachers are now only allowed to authorise any leave of absence when an application has been made in advance and it is felt to be for an exceptional circumstance; an annual family holiday is not deemed an exceptional circumstance, nor is cost or convenience.
Advice from Shropshire Council’s Education Access Team is that “exceptional circumstances” include circumstances where:
- It is unlikely that the event will occur again in a child’s school life
- It is necessary for the child to be in attendance at the event
- The event cannot be organised outside of the school term
- The event is necessary to the health and wellbeing of the child
- Taking part in the event will be of greater educational value to the child than attending school
All applications for leave in term time are considered. However only in very exceptional circumstances will time off be authorised. Requests for leave which have not been authorised will be recorded as “unauthorised” on a student’s registration certificate. This will then be followed up and a warning notice or fine may follow.
Requests for leave in term time must be submitted at least 28 days in advance of the requested date(s). Accommodation, flights or other arrangements should not be booked until authorisation has been confirmed. Where leave is not authorised, you may be able to appeal against the decision by writing to the headteacher, within 5 working days of the refusal.
- 4. Lateness
Pupils must attend on time to be given a mark for that session unless the lateness is unavoidable (e.g. late bus or medical appointment). Parents/carers are expected to ensure that students are on time for registration.
Pupils arriving after 9.10 am will be marked as late.
- 5. Attendance Monitoring
The school monitors pupils’ attendance on a regular basis and may contact parents/carers if attendance falls below 93%.
Where a pupil’s attendance drops below 89% the EWO will contact the parent/carer. If non-attendance continues the Local Authority may prosecute or issue a fixed penalty fine.
Parents/carers are required to inform the school of the reasons for their children’s absence. Failure to provide a reason for absence will be followed up by the school administration staff who will telephone or write requesting the reason for absence.