Why Good Attendance is Important
For our children to gain the greatest benefit from their education it is vital that they attend regularly and your child should be at school, on time, every day the school is open unless the reason for the absence is unavoidable. Any absence affects the pattern of a child’s schooling and regular absence will seriously affect their learning. Indeed, any pupil’s absence disrupts teaching routines so may affect the learning of others in the same class. Ensuring your child’s regular attendance at school is your legal responsibility and permitting absence from school without a good reason creates an offence in law and may result in prosecution. It is very important therefore that you make sure that your child attends regularly.
Promoting Regular Attendance
Helping to create a pattern of regular attendance is everybody’s responsibility - parents, pupils and all members of school staff.
We will encourage good attendance by:
- making school a lively and interesting place to be
- cultivating a positive learning environment for all pupils
- creating a positive environment where children feel safe and secure
- improving the quality of play in the playground
- being sympathetic and supportive to pupils who experience problems in school
- emphasising the importance of regular school attendance to enable pupils to benefit fully from their schooling
- monitoring attendance data in a systematic manner
- developing a system of rewards for good attendance
- reminding parents on a regular basis of their responsibilities regarding attendance and punctuality
- offering help and advice to resolve any difficulties the pupil or parent/carer may have in fulfilling these responsibilities
Understanding Types of Absence
Every half-day absence from school has to be classified by the school (not by the parents), as either AUTHORISED or UNAUTHORISED. This is why information about the cause of any absence is always required. Authorised absences are mornings or afternoons away from school for a good reason like illness, medical/dental appointments which unavoidably fall in school time, emergencies or other unavoidable causes.
Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider reasonable and for which no “leave" has been given. This type of absence can lead to the Education Welfare Service using sanctions and/or legal proceedings. Unauthorised absences include:
- parents/carers keeping children off school unnecessarily
- absences which have never been properly explained
- shopping, looking after other children or birthdays
- children who arrive at school too late to get a mark
- day trips and holidays in term time which have not been agreed
Whilst any child may be off school because they are ill, sometimes they can be reluctant to attend school. If your child is reluctant to attend, it is never better to cover up their absence or to give in to pressure to excuse them from attending. This gives the impression that attendance does not matter and usually make things worse. Any problems with regular attendance are best sorted out between the school, the parents and the child straight away. They must be collected from the school office for visits to the doctor, dentist etc.
- If your child is absent you must contact us as soon as possible on the first day of absence
- If we do not hear from you on the first day of absence we will telephone you or make a home visit
- If appropriate we will invite you into school to discuss your child’s attendance and any problems he/she may be experiencing
- If your child’s absence levels approach 90% we will arrange a meeting to discuss this and then the matter may be referred to the Education Welfare Service
The Education Welfare Service
Parents are expected to work with the staff in resolving any attendance problems together. This is nearly always successful. However, if difficulties cannot be sorted out in this way, the school may refer the child to the Education Welfare Service. This service will also try to resolve the situation by agreement but, if other ways of trying to improve your child’s attendance have failed and unauthorised absences persist (including unauthorised holidays), this service will support the school in using sanctions such as Fixed Penalty Notices or prosecutions in the Magistrates Court. Alternatively, parents may wish to contact the Education Welfare Service themselves to ask for help or information. They are independent of the school and will give impartial advice.
Poor punctuality is not acceptable in the workplace so we want our pupils to get into good habits whilst at school. If your child misses the start of the day, they can miss learning and do not spend time with their class teacher getting vital information and news for the day. Late arriving pupils also disrupt lessons, it can be embarrassing for the child and can also encourage absence. Consequently, we expect all pupils to arrive at school for the start of the day (8:55 am). If your child is frequently late, but arrives before the registers are closed and if there is no good reason for this, the headteacher will arrange a meeting with you and you may be given a target to meet in order to get your child to school by a set time.
Attendance and Punctuality in the Early Years
Establishing good habits from the start will help your child to settle more quickly and build good habits for later life. Coming to school on time, every day helps to develop confidence. Research has shown that, even at the earliest age, children with poor attendance and punctuality are at a disadvantage later in life. They generally find it harder to make and maintain friendships, they achieve less and they often suffer from poor self-esteem. Even if your child only has a part time pre-school place, regular attendance is vitally important.