Illness & Absence
This policy reflects the vision and aims of Hackthorn (CE) Primary School.
At Hackthorn School, all staff work collaboratively to encourage every pupil to strive for excellence. Every child will be supported, challenged and valued. One way in which we strive to do this is by encouraging staff, parents and children to maximise the learning experience in order that all children reach their full potential. We are determined in encouraging the development of high self-esteem and for our children to take pride and ownership of their learning. In conjunction with this, we will continuously provide a clear framework for parents and staff as well as clear procedures for involving parents and/or external agencies where appropriate.
Our policy applies to all children registered at this school and this policy is made available to all parents/carers of pupils that are registered at our school on the school website.
Hackthorn School encourages all parents/carers to work in partnership with the school in order to improve attendance and punctuality and recognises that “parents have the primary responsibility to ensure that pupils of compulsory school age attend school regularly” (DfE 1999).
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
This Attendance Policy ensures that all staff and governors in our school are fully aware of, and clear about, the actions necessary to promote good attendance.
Through this Policy, we aim to:
- Improve pupils’ achievement by ensuring high levels of attendance and punctuality.
- Achieve a minimum of 96% for all pupils, apart from those with chronic health issues.
- Create an ethos in which good attendance and punctuality are recognised as the norm and seen to be valued by the school.
- Raise awareness of parents, carers and pupils of the importance of uninterrupted attendance and punctuality at every stage of a child’s education.
- Ensure that our policy applies to Reception age children in order to promote good habits at an early age.
- Work in partnership with pupils, parents, staff and the Education Welfare Service so that all pupils realise their potential, unhindered by unnecessary absence.
- Promote a positive and welcoming atmosphere in which pupils feel safe, secure and valued, and encourage in pupils a sense of their own responsibility.
- Establish a pattern of monitoring attendance and ensure consistency in recognising achievement and dealing with difficulties.
- Recognise the key role of all staff in promoting good attendance.
RESPONSIBILITY OF PARENTS/CARERS
Children who are persistently late or absent soon fall behind with their learning. Children who are absent from school frequently develop large gaps in their learning which will affect their progress and their ability to meet age related learning expectations. A child whose attendance drops to 90% each year will, over their time at primary school, have missed two whole terms of learning.
It is the parent/carer’s responsibility:
- To ensure that their children arrive to school on time. Doors open at 8.45am until 9.00am. This is sufficient time for all pupils to get to their classroom.
- To ensure children who are late after 9.00am report to the school office to sign in. Records are kept of pupils who are late with an L code in the register. Any child arriving after 9.05am will be marked with a U code, equivalent to an unauthorised absence.
- To ensure children are collected promptly at the end of the school day and that necessary arrangements are in place for the journey home. If these differ from the child’s normal arrangements, the class teacher and school office should be made aware of this.
It is the parent/carer’s responsibility:
- To notify the school on the first day of absence before 8.45am or as soon as possible thereafter. Parents should report an absence by telephoning the school office. Please do NOT inform us via email as we sometimes have problems with our WiFi connections.
- To provide medical evidence where possible, on the child’s return to school.
- To ensure that as far as possible, medical appointments are arranged for outside school hours. Where this is not possible, parents are expected to provide notification of the appointment in advance, and the child should attend school before/after the appointment.
- To liaise with the school as soon as possible regarding any specific issues that might cause absence or lateness, e.g. a sick parent/carer.
Parents/carers of children for whom we do not know the reason for absence will be contacted after 9:05am.
In addition to the points above, if a child is repeatedly absent due to illness, the school may request medical evidence for further absences. This can take the form of a GP appointment card, a consultant letter, a copy of a prescription etc.
The school may request medical evidence for any illness related absence taken immediately before or after a school holiday.
Absence for Holidays
Parents/carers are expected only to take their children on holiday during the school holidays to minimise the impact of missing education.
If there are exceptional circumstances (see Appendix A), parents/carers must notify the Headteacher of these in writing (preferably by letter) in advance of the trip (ideally at least four weeks beforehand). These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Headteacher and governors who will use their discretion whilst applying government recommendations.
It is the parent/carer’s responsibility:
- To notify the Headteacher when requesting a leave of absence.
- To do this in writing in advance of the period of absence (ideally four weeks beforehand).
If parents/carers decide to take a holiday without the Headteacher’s authorisation, the child’s absences will be marked as unauthorised. Fixed Penalty Notices may be issued for unauthorised holiday absence during term time.
Absence for Other Reasons
Absences for reasons such as religious observance (up to two days per year) or close family bereavement may be authorised by the Headteacher. These requests must be discussed with the school. Absences for close family members’ weddings or funerals will be limited to one day’s authorised absence, if granted.
It is the parent/carer’s responsibility:
- To complete a ‘Request for absence’ form, to inform the Headteacher of the need for leave in circumstances which are known in advance. A copy of the ‘Request for absence’ form can be obtained from the school office or downloaded from the school website.
- To inform the school as soon as possible when sudden circumstances occur which prevent a family bringing a child to school, so that the appropriate code can be recorded in the register.
When a child is repeatedly absent and no satisfactory reason is given, the parent/carers will be investigated and may be liable for prosecution and/or a fine from the Local Authority.
Regular monitoring is carried out by the Headteacher. Children who have repeated unauthorised absences, holidays or otherwise, may be contacted by the Education Welfare Officer and may be invited in to an attendance meeting to discuss absences and any appropriate support.
ROLE OF THE EDUCATION WELFARE OFFICER
- To investigate absence that exceeds more than 10%, and to hold meetings with these parents as required.
- To investigate lateness which exceeds more than 5%.
- To investigate any unexplained absence which exceeds more than five consecutive days.
- To ensure parents are aware of their legal duty under the Education Act to ensure their children attend school.
- To refer cases to the Local Authority for prosecution where persistent absenteeism has not improved despite thorough intervention and support from the school and Education Welfare Officer.
- To report accurate whole school and individual attendance data when required.
CHILDREN MISSING IN EDUCATION
If a child is absent (unexplained) for at least five consecutive days, the Education Welfare Officer will be notified. A home visit may be carried out. If the absence continues for a total of ten days, the family will be referred as a CME case for the Local Authority.
Children who repeatedly attend school late after 9.00am will be brought to the attention of the Education Welfare Officer. Warning letters will be issued to the parents/carers of these children. Parents/carers should note that children who arrive late after 9.05am are given a ‘U’ code, which is the equivalent of an unauthorised absence and this will affect the child’s attendance figures. Fixed penalty notices may be issued to parents/carers whose children persistently arrive after this time.
Refer to Policy Review Timetable
Policy Last Updated: Sept 2023
Appendix A - Exceptional Circumstances for Absence from School
Holidays in term time:
Taking holidays in term time will affect a child’s schooling as much as any other absence and we expect parents to help us by not taking children away in school time.
There is no automatic entitlement in law to take time off in school time to go on holiday.
Amendments to the 2006 regulations make clear that the Headteacher may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. The Headteacher should also determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if the leave is granted.
Leave of absence in exceptional circumstance:
The Headteacher may only grant leave of absence for exceptional circumstances.
Examples of any exceptional circumstances where leave may be granted during term time are as follows:
- If a parent is service personnel and is 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 close relative, only if Headteacher is satisfied that the circumstances are truly exceptional;
- Out of school programmes such as music, arts or sport operating at a high standard of achievement. Documentary evidence of this event will be required.
- Religious observance - The Education Act 1996 S444(3) (c), states ‘’on any day exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which his/her parent belongs’’;
- To attend a wedding or funeral of a close relative if the Headteacher is satisfied that the circumstances are truly exceptional; Leave should only be authorised for this purpose when a Headteacher is satisfied that there is a persuasive reason for holding the wedding during term time and there WILL be an onus on parents to show clear evidence that this absence is absolutely an exceptional circumstance. In difficult family situations the Headteacher may use his/her discretion in granting leave and each case should be addressed on its individual merits, taking into account the overall welfare of the child.
Where there are exceptional and unforeseen circumstances that fall outside of the above, the Headteacher agrees to consult with the governing body prior to any authorisation being given to the parent.
Evidence would be required in each case.
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).
3) Year Six SATs Week (for pupils in Year Six).
When considering exceptional term time leave requests, the following factors may help to reach a decision:
- Time of the academic year when the leave has been requested.
- Duration of the absence - number of school days being missed.
- The child’s current attendance and punctuality rate.
- Exceptional term time leave requested/taken in previous academic years for a similar purpose.
- Whether parent/carers have considered limiting the amount of time the child would be absent from school, e.g. wrapping around school holiday.
- Have alternative care arrangements been considered by the parent/carer to limit the time away from school.
- Impact on any interventions, assessments or referrals being undertaken with the child or family, e.g. family support, social care assessments, CAMHS, SEN.
- The impact that the absence will have on the child.
- Whether it falls within any key stage national tests or exams.
Examples of circumstances NOT considered as exceptional
- Holidays abroad for the purpose of visiting a sick relative, excepting where that person is seriously ill. Medical evidence may be requested.
- Holidays taken in term time due to lower cost/parental work commitments.