- Aims of the policy and the importance of excellent attendance
Regular attendance at school is directly linked to better academic outcomes, increased mental and physical wellbeing and safety and personal development. Even missing 5 days of school in an academic year, leads to a loss of learning of 25 lessons. Unless this learning is caught up, the young person is at a disadvantage as they develop significant knowledge gaps. Whilst we understand that some absence is unavoidable, the aims of the policy and practice at Rossett School are to ensure that students attend school as close to 100% of the time as possible. For this to be possible, all stakeholders - parents, students, school staff and governors - must understand excellent attendance by all students is one of the biggest priorities the school has. Parents and carers must understand that if they are contacted about their child’s attendance falling below the expected level, they must take this matter seriously and work with the school and other agencies, if necessary, to bring about rapid improvements. We are committed to removing barriers to any child’s attendance and will always consider students as individuals. It is important to know that Rossett School, in line with government legislation, determines what is meant by ‘regular attendance’, not students or parents.
We are committed to meeting our obligations with regards to school attendance by:
- Promoting good attendance and reducing absence, including persistent absence
- Ensuring every pupil has access to full-time education to which they are entitled
- Acting early to address patterns of absence
2. Legislation and guidance
This policy meets the requirements of the school attendance guidance from the Department for Education (DfE), and refers to the DfE’s statutory guidance on school attendance parental responsibility measures. These documents are drawn from the following legislation setting out the legal powers and duties that govern school attendance:
- Part 6 of The Education Act 1996
- Part 3 of The Education Act 2002
- Part 7 of The Education and Inspections Act 2006
- The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 (and 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016 amendments)
- The Education (Penalty Notices) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013
This policy also refers to the DfE’s guidance on the school census, which explains the persistent absence threshold.
3. Roles and responsibilities
The Department for Education states:
‘Parents are responsible for making sure that their children of compulsory school age receive a suitable full-time education. This can be by regular attendance at school, at alternative provision, or otherwise (e.g. the parent can choose to educate their child at home). A child reaches compulsory school age on or after their fifth birthday.’
For children enrolled at Rossett School, this means that the adult who has day to day responsibility for a child is responsible for ensuring they attend in line with what is deemed ‘regular attendance’.
Regular attendance is defined as no more than 5 school days missed in the academic year - or 97% attendance.
Parents must support the regular attendance of their child(ren) by:
- ensuring they follow the NHS guidance ‘Is my child too ill to go school’ when making decisions about keeping them off due to illness.
- not arranging holidays during term time
- arranging medical appointments outside of school hours
- acting early to seek support address refusal to attend to school by working with the school to address underlying issues
3.1 The Governing Board
The governing board is responsible for monitoring attendance figures for the whole school on at least a termly basis. It also holds the Headteacher to account for the implementation of this policy.
3.2 The Headteacher
The Headteacher is responsible for:
- Implementation of this policy at the school
- Monitoring school-level absence data and reporting it to governors
- Supporting senior staff with monitoring the attendance of individual pupils
- Issuing fixed-penalty notices, where necessary
3.3 The Attendance Officer
The school attendance officer:
- Monitors attendance data across the school and at an individual pupil level
- Reports concerns about attendance to the Headteacher
- Works with North Yorkshire Education Authority and Leeds Education Authority to tackle persistent absence
- Arranges calls and meetings with parents to discuss attendance issues
- Advises the Headteacher when to issue fixed-penalty notices
3.4 Class teachers and form tutors
Class teachers and form tutors are responsible for recording attendance on a daily basis, using the correct codes when recording absence on SIMS. Registers must be taken within the first 5 minutes of the lesson and any absent students must be recorded as such and an email sent to the missing student email address.
3.5 School office staff
School office staff are expected to take calls from parents about absence and record it on the school system.
4.1 Attendance register
We will keep an attendance register, and place all pupils onto this register.
We will take our attendance register at the start of the first session of each school day and once during the second session. It will mark whether every pupil is:
- Attending an approved off-site educational activity
- Unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances
Any amendment to the attendance register will include:
- The original entry
- The amended entry
- The reason for the amendment
- The date on which the amendment was made
- The name and position of the person who made the amendment
See appendix 1 for the DfE attendance codes.
We will keep every entry on the attendance register for 3 years after the date on which the entry was made.
Pupils must arrive in school by 8:45 am each school day.
The register for the first session will be taken at 8:50 am and will be kept open until 9:30am. The register for the second session will be taken at 2:10pm and will be kept open until 2:30pm.
4.2 Unplanned absence
The pupil’s parent/carer must notify the school on the first day of an unplanned absence by 8:30am or as soon as practically possible (see also section 7).
Absence line: 01423 564 444 option 1
We expect parents to follow the NHS guidance ‘Is my child too ill to go school’ when making decisions about keeping them off due to illness.
We will mark absence due to illness as authorized unless the school has a genuine concern about the authenticity of the illness.
If the authenticity of the illness is in doubt, the school may ask the pupil’s parent/carer to provide medical evidence, such as a doctor’s note, prescription, appointment card or other appropriate form of evidence. We will not ask for medical evidence unnecessarily.
If the school is not satisfied about the authenticity of the illness, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised and parents/carers will be notified of this in advance.
4.3 Planned absence
Attending a medical or dental appointment will be counted as authorised as long as the pupil’s parent/carer notifies the school in advance of the appointment.
For planned absences, parents/carers must contact their child’s Student Support Officer in the first instance.
However, we urge parents/carers to make medical and dental appointments out of school hours where possible. Where this is not possible, the pupil should be out of school for the minimum amount of time necessary.
The pupil’s parent/carer must also apply for other types of term-time absence as far in advance as possible of the requested absence. Go to section 5 to find out which term-time absences the school can authorise.
4.4 Lateness and punctuality
A pupil who arrives late:
Before the register has closed will be marked as late, using the appropriate code - L
After the register has closed will be marked as absent, using the appropriate code - U
For persistent issues with punctuality, parents/carers will be called in for a meeting to discuss the barriers to their child being on time and how to improve the issue.
4.5 Following up absence
Where any child we expect to attend school does not attend, or stops attending, the school will:
- Follow up on their absence with their parent/carer to ascertain the reason, by phone call
- Ensure proper safeguarding action is taken where necessary including; home visits by the school, referrals to the Child Missing in Education Team at North Yorkshire or Leeds and referrals to Early Help and Children’s Social Care
- Identify whether the absence is approved or not
- Identify the correct attendance code to use
4.6 Reporting to parents
5. Authorised and unauthorised absence
5.1 Approval for term-time absence
The Headteacher will only grant a leave of absence to pupils during term time if they consider there to be 'exceptional circumstances'. A leave of absence is granted at the Headteacher’s discretion.
The school considers each application for term-time absence individually, taking into account the specific facts, circumstances and relevant context behind the request.
Valid reasons for authorised absence include:
- Illness and medical/dental appointments
- Religious observance – where the day is exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which the pupil’s parents belong. If necessary, the school will seek advice from the parents’ religious body to confirm whether the day is set apart
5.2 Reducing persistent absence
Where attendance falls below the expected level (97%) there are a series of actions the school will take to improve attendance. During weekly attendance meetings, students whose attendance has dropped will be identified and the reasons discussed.
The persistent absence threshold is 10%. If a pupil's individual overall absence rate is greater than or equal to 10%, the pupil will be classified as a persistent absentee.
5.3 Legal sanctions
The school or local authority can fine parents for the unauthorised absence of their child from school, where the child is of compulsory school age.
If issued with a fine, or penalty notice, each parent must pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days. The payment must be made directly to the local authority.
Penalty notices can be issued by a headteacher, local authority officer or the police.
The decision on whether or not to issue a penalty notice may take into account:
- The number of unauthorised absences occurring within a rolling academic year
- One-off instances of irregular attendance, such as holidays taken in term time without permission
- Where an excluded pupil is found in a public place during school hours without a justifiable reason
The threshold for fining is 5 unauthorised days absence. This can be made up of morning or afternoon ‘sessions’ totaling 5 days.
If the payment has not been made after 28 days, the local authority can decide whether to prosecute or withdraw the notice.
The school will also proactively support students with their attendance including by:
- Inviting students eligible for pupil premium funding to have a free breakfast in school
- Rewards and competitions
- Highly visible signage around the school about the importance of attendance
- Form tutor input
- Targeted pastoral support
- Delivering regular messages about the importance of attendance
- Providing engaging lessons
7. Attendance monitoring
The Attendance Officer and Student Support Officers at our school monitor pupil absence on a daily basis.
A pupil’s parent/carer is expected to call the school in the morning if their child is going to be absent due to ill health (see section 4.2).
The pupil’s parent/carer is expected to call the school each day their child is ill. If a pupil’s absence goes above the number of days typical of such an illness, the school will contact the parent/carer of the pupil to discuss the reasons for this.
If a pupil’s absence continue to rise after contacting their parent/carer, we will consider involving an education welfare officer.
Pupil-level absence data will be collected each term and published at national and local authority level through the DfE's school absence national statistics releases. The underlying school-level absence data is published alongside the national statistics. The school will compare attendance data to the national average and share this with the governing board.
Rossett School uses attendance data to:
- Track the attendance of individual pupils
- Identify whether or not there are particular groups of children whose absences may be a cause for concern
- Monitor and evaluate those children identified as being in need of intervention and support
This policy will be reviewed as guidance from the local authority or DfE is updated, and as a minimum annually by the Deputy Headteacher for Pastoral Care. At every review, the policy will be approved by the full governing board.