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Pupil Attendance & Punctuality

Excellent attendance is very important here at Wistaston Church Lane and we are delighted that our overall attendance remained high at 97.2% in 2015 to 16.

 

In accordance with the DfE’s guidance, we do not authorise absence from school for holidays during term time except in the most exceptional circumstances.

 

Please find below some guidance regarding absences from school.

Holidays from school

Parents have a legal duty to ensure that their children attend school or the alternative provision on a regular basis. The Education Act 1996 makes it a criminal offence for a parent to “fail to secure their child’s regular attendance at the school.” Amendments to the regulations remove any reference to family holidays, extended leave and the statutory threshold of ten school days. Parents are not entitled to take a child out of school for a family holiday.

 

The amendments make clear that Head Teachers may not grant any leave of absence (holiday) during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. The Principal and Governing Body determine that exceptional circumstances include:

  • Services leave
  • Family crisis (These are one off events which are unavoidable and necessary: these may include: Looked After Child, adoption, bereavement, housing crisis which prevents attendance, severe medical needs within the family) – these occasions will usually be recorded with ‘C’ in the register, meaning ‘other authorised circumstance’. Sometimes proof may be requested.
  • Religious observation – recorded as ‘R’ in the register
  • Attendance at a family funeral – recorded as ‘C’ in the register
  • Any other ‘exceptional circumstance’ at the discretion of the Principal. Evidence should be supplied.

 

Examples of occasions which do not fall into an exceptional circumstance include:

  • Family holidays within a term
  • Family holidays attached to a school holiday at any time of the year
  • Birthday treats
  • Days out with family members
  • ‘Trips of a lifetime’

 

Other examples of common absence requests

  • Major family events – each request will be considered under ‘exceptional circumstances’ and the decision conveyed to parents. Decisions will depend on the date of the request, the overall percentage attendance of the child to date, the Key Stage of the child and the need to ensure examination periods/the education of the child are not disrupted. Proof may be requested, e.g. wedding invitation.
  • Self-employed workers – some employment may make it difficult for families to spend time together in the Summer Holiday. However, there are other school breaks when such family time can be used. A decision by parents not to spend time together in the other school holiday times, i.e. Christmas or Easter break, because of poor weather (for example) will not be a reason for authorising absences during the warmer school terms. Families need to investigate alternative non-school times throughout the year to spend time together. Legislation no longer allows Head Teachers to authorise absence from school for a term time holiday.
  • Non-School Sporting events – absences will be approved for the day of the sporting event only if a pupil’s attendance record is excellent. Evidence of the sporting event must be received.
  • Non-School Performing, filming, modelling, paid-sporting events – Organisers of such events must apply to Cheshire East Council in order to obtain a performing licence for pupils. Further information can be found here. A request will then be sent to school to authorise the absence. Absences will be approved according to the licence only if the pupil’s attendance record is excellent.

 

If you decide to take a holiday or request a leave of absence during term time what should you do?

  • The parent/carer with whom the child resides must apply in writing to the school using a Request for Leave of Absence Form (available on our website and in the school of office).
  • The form should be at the school office a minimum of two weeks prior to the commencement of the absence. Any leave of absence is likely to be unauthorised if the request is received with fewer than two weeks’ notice.

What will the school do then?

  • The Principal will determine whether the exceptional circumstance ruling applies, if not the application will be declined.
  • You will receive a written response from the Principal (or the Vice-Principal) letting you know if your application has been approved.
  • If the holiday goes ahead after the application has been declined the absence will be recorded as unauthorised.

 

What will happen if the absence is unauthorised?

  • The school will decide if a Fixed Penalty Notice should be issued. This is usually because the holiday has not been authorised as the reasons have not met the exceptional circumstance criteria, and the holiday is over 10 sessions, 5 school days. If the school decides that a Fixed Penalty Notice is to be issued:
    • You will receive a letter from the school advising that it has referred the matter to the Local Authority and that a Fixed Penalty Notice may be issued.
    • The school will inform the Local Authority that a Fixed Penalty Notice needs to be issued.
    • A Fixed Penalty Notice will be sent to you, accompanied by an explanatory letter ; the Notice gives you the opportunity to pay a penalty fine instead of being prosecuted in the criminal courts.

Penalties for unauthorised absence

Timeline

One child

Two children

Paid within 21 days

£60 per parent

£60 per child = £120 per parent

After 21 days and before 28 days

£120 per parent

£120 per child = £240 per parent

After 28 days

You will receive a summons to appear before the Magistrates’ Court on the grounds you have failed to secure your child’s regular attendance

You will receive a summons to appear before the Magistrates’ Court on the grounds you have failed to secure your child’s regular attendance

Payments will not be accepted after the 28th day and payments cannot be paid in part or by instalments.

 

My child has a sibling at a different school. What happens with family holidays?

Since the change in the requirement for all Cheshire East schools to follow the Cheshire East holiday programme, there are cases where schools in the same locality are operating different schedules. Where this affects siblings, Cheshire East recommends that Head Teachers should not request that the local authority issues a Fixed Penalty Notice, if parents choose to have an unauthorised holiday. Whilst pupils will receive unauthorised absence marks, they should not receive a penalty notice.

Illness

We understand that, on occasions, pupils may have to miss school due to ill health. We ask parents that they:

  1. Adopt a bracing approach to illness. Please only keep pupils off school when it is absolutely necessary.
  2. Contact school by phone on 01270663619 or 01270567769 on the first day of absence by 9.05am, indicating the reason for the child’s absence and the expected date of return.
  3. In cases of persistent or prolonged absence, school may require medical evidence, e.g. doctor’s note, to explain the absence.

 

Medical Appointments

Medical/dental appointments should be made out of school hours to prevent disruption to learning. Where this is not possible, please contact the school office with the appropriate evidence, e.g. letter/appointment card. If pupils are in school for registration they are recorded in the register as being present. If a pupil attends an appointment and then arrives in school after registers are closed, the absence is recorded as M (medical appointment) and is therefore an unauthorised absence. This is in line with Government guidelines at www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/564599/school_attendance.pdf.

Registration and Punctuality

Although we understand that occasionally things can go wrong which cause late registration, it is important that children are in school on time each day. Fifteen minutes late each day in a half-term would add up to missing a day off school.

  • The school's Official Register is stored on the SIMS.net Data Base. Registers will either be updated using SIMS.net or on a paper copy. Registers provide the twice daily record of the attendance of all pupils; they are legal documents that may be required in a court of law, for example as evidence in prosecutions for non-attendance at school.
  • It is expected that parents or carers will provide an explanation if their child is absent. This should be received on the first day the absence occurs, at the start of the school day and, where possible, give some indication as to when the child is expected to return.
  • Members of staff take class registers at the start of every morning and afternoon session, by 9.05 am and 1.20 pm respectively. Registers are brought to the office and checked by the administration staff.
  • Pupils arriving at school between 9.05am and 9.20am in the morning, or between 1.20pm and 1.30pm in the afternoon are recorded as being late (L).
  • Pupils arriving after 9.20am in the morning, or after 1.30pm in the afternoon, are recorded with a U (late after registration closed). This is therefore an unauthorised absence.
  • Absences and missing marks are checked and followed up by administration staff - initial checks for absent children are made in the classroom, and sometimes by asking an older sibling. Sometimes a text is sent to a parent if we have received no contact. If a pupil is not present and no message has been received from the parents, a telephone call is made to the parents by 9.30 am.
  • Administration staff keep a record of the steps they have taken to locate absent children – this includes pupil names, year group, classroom checks, checks with siblings, time phone call was made home, reasons for absence and if any further action is required.

 

The school staff use the Cheshire East Council codes and guidelines for entries and absences. You can read more about this at www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/564599/school_attendance.pdf

Fixed Penalty Notices

The school may ask the local authority to issue fixed penalty notices on its behalf under the following circumstances:

  • More than ten sessions (five school days) lost due to unauthorised absence (O code) in any two consecutive half terms
  • Unauthorised leave of absence (G code) of at least ten sessions (five school days) due to holidays in term time
  • Persistent (more than ten) late arrival at school, for example after the register has closed, in any two consecutive half terms

 

A letter will be sent home once a child’s attendance has fallen below 90%, or if there is a particular pattern of absence, such as persistent lateness.

If there is no improvement, then the matter will be referred to the Education Welfare Service.

Education Welfare Service

Each school has a designated Education Welfare Officer (EWO) at Cheshire East Council. You can contact the EWO by ringing 01270375277. You can also visit the website at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ews.

More information on school attendance can be found at:

 

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