Attendance Policy

Introduction

For our children to gain the greatest benefit from their education it is vital that they attend the Initiative regularly and punctually and this policy sets out how we, together, will achieve this.

In order for any attendance and punctuality policy to be effective it must be consistently applied throughout the whole school, by its staff, pupils and parents.

Why regular attendance is so important?

Any absence affects the pattern of your child’s schooling and regular absence will seriously affect their learning. Any pupils’ absence disrupts teaching routines which may affect the learning of others in the same class. Our teaching methods also make it almost impossible to catch up with learning and work missed, or for it to be done at home.

Ensuring your child’s regular attendance at school is your legal and parental responsibility, permitting absence from school without good reason is an offence in law and may result in a Penalty Notice being issued or Court action/prosecution.

Research has shown that regular attendance and good punctuality are key factors in children achieving their full potential at school.

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.

The school keeps a register of attendance for every child. This is a legal document and record and classifies every half-day attendance and/or absence. Absences are classified as either authorised or unauthorised. For this reason, the school will ask parents/carers for the reason for each absence.

Every School Day Counts

Although being absent cannot always be helped as we all do become ill from time to time, please take a look at the table below to show you exactly what your child could be missing.

365 Days in a Year 190 School Days in Total Absence
100% Attendance 190 Days 0
95% Attendance 180 Days 2 Weeks
90% Attendance 171 Days 4 Weeks
85% Attendance 161 Days 6 Weeks
80% Attendance 152 Days More than half a term
75% Attendance 143 Days 9+ Weeks

Promoting regular attendance

Helping to create a pattern of regular attendance is everybody’s responsibility – parent, pupils and all members of school staff.

To help us all to focus on this we will give you details on attendance in our news and updates emails and on our website.

Safeguarding

Effective attendance procedures are integral to ensuring all children are kept safe. Your child may be at risk of harm if they do not attend school regularly. Safeguarding the interest of each child is everyone’s responsibility and within the context of this school, promoting the welfare and life opportunities for your child encompasses:

  • Attendance
  • Behaviour management
  • Health and Safety
  • Access to the curriculum and anti-bullying.

Failing to attend school on a regular basis will be considered as a safeguarding matter.

The Law Relating to Attendance

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that ‘the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him/her to receive efficient full time education suitable to:

  1. Age, ability and aptitude;
  2. Any special educational needs, they may have either by regular attendance to school or otherwise.

If you wish to find out more information about the legislation around attendance, please see the government information on school attendance.

Understanding Types of Absence

Every-half day absence from school has to be classified by the school as either AUTHORISED or UNAUTHORISED. This is why information about the cause of any absence is always required, preferably in writing.

Authorised absences are mornings or afternoons away from school for a good reason such as illness, medical/dental appointments which cannot be made outside of school time or unavoidably fall in school time, emergencies or other unavoidable causes.

In order to enable the school to authorise an absence due to illness, parents/carers are requested to:

  • Provide medical evidence to the school. This can be in the form of GP / hospital / medical / dental appointment letters / cards, copies of prescriptions issued (providing the child’s name is indicated there on).

In order to enable the school to authorise an absence due to an emergency or unavoidable cause, parents/carers are requested to:

  • Speak to the Attendance Officer / Head Teacher, advise them of the issue and request the absence be authorised;
  • Write to the Attendance Officer/Head Teacher and request the absence be authorised.

Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider reasonable and for which no “authorised leave of absence” has been given. This type of absence can lead to the use of sanctions and/or referring to the Local Authority for legal intervention. Unauthorised absences are:

  • Parents/carers keeping children off school unnecessarily;
  • Parents/carers not communicating the reason for absence the school;
  • Absences which have never been properly explained or evidenced;
  • Parents not providing medical evidence to the school to support the absence as being due to ill health.
  • Child who arrive at school after the registration period has ended
  • Truancy before or during the school day
  • Shopping, looking after other children or birthdays
  • Day trips, holidays or overseas trips in term time

Whilst any child may be off school because they are ill, sometimes they can be reluctant to attend school. Any problems with regular attendance are best sorted out between the school, the parents and the child. 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.

Absence in Term Time

Holidays or overseas trip absences in term time will affect your child’s schooling as much as any other absence and we expect parents to help us by not taking students away in school time.

Remember that any savings you think you may make by taking a holiday/overseas trip in school time are offset by the cost to your child’s education. Because of the damage to your child’s learning caused by this, we do not authorise any holidays/overseas trips in term time.

There is no automatic entitlement in law to time off school to go on holiday/overseas trip.

Persistent Absenteeism (PA)

A child becomes a ‘persistent absentee’ when they miss 10% (26 sessions or 13 days) or more schooling across the school year for whatever reason (this includes authorised and unauthorised absences). Absence at this level is doing considerable damage to any child’s educational prospects and we need parents’ fullest support and co-operation to tackle this.

We monitor all absence thoroughly. Any case that is seen to have reached the PA mark or is at risk of moving towards that mark is given priority and parents will be informed of this immediately.

Projected PA children are tracked and monitored carefully through our attendance system. All our PA children and their parents are subject to an Intervention Plan and individual incentive programmes. All PA cases are also automatically made known to Sarah Loudon (Office Manager) and in some cases this may lead to a referral to the Attendance Advisory Service of the Local Authority, whereby legal action could be initiated.

Absence Procedure

If your child is absent you must:

  • Contact the school as soon as possible on the first day of absence, advising of the reason and likely length of absence, either by calling the school office or emailing info@canterburynewschool.co.uk. A phone call will be made to parents each time the child has been marked with an unauthorised code and no reason has been given for absence;
  • Contact the school on each subsequent days of absence.

What School Will Do if Attendance is a Concern?

  • Letters will be sent to parents to alert them to the concerns Initiative has about their child’s attendance and/or punctuality;
  • Invite you into the school to discuss the situation with the Class Teacher
  • Referral to Attendance Advisory Service if your child’s unauthorised absence reaches 10% or more.

The Role of the Office Manager 

Parents are expected to contact Initiative at an early stage and to work with the staff to resolve any problems related to attendance together. This is nearly always successful. If difficulties cannot be resolved this way and unauthorised absences continue, the Initiative may refer to the Attendance Advisory Service. The Office Manager and Class Teacher will try to resolve the situation by agreement with you but, if other ways of trying to improve your child’s attendance have failed and unauthorised absence persist the Attendance Advisory Service can use sanction such as Penalty Notices or prosecutions in the Magistrates Court.

Alternatively, parents may wish to contact the Attendance Advisory Service themselves to ask for help or information. They are independent of the Initiative and will give impartial advice their telephone number is 020 8921 8510.

Lateness

Poor punctuality is not acceptable. If your child misses the start of the day they can miss spending time with their class teacher, getting vital information and news for the day. When children arrive late, this also disrupts lessons, can be embarrassing for your child and can also encourage absence.

How we manage lateness

The school day starts at 9:00 am for the Kindergarten and 8.30am for the Lower School. We except your children to be in class at that time.

Registers in the Kindergarten will be marked at 9.00am and your child will receive a late mark if they are not in by that time.

Registers in the Lower School will be marked at 8.30am and your child will receive a late mark if they are not in by that time.

At 9.15am in the Kindergarten and 8:45am in the Lower School the registers will be closed. In accordance with the regulations, if your child arrives after that time they will receive a mark that shows them to be on site, but this will not count as a present mark and it will mean they have an unauthorised absence.

Poor punctuality is classified as ‘irregular school attendance’ and action will be undertaken to address it, following the same procedure.

If your child has a persistent late record you will be asked to meet with the Class Teacher to resolve the problem, but you can approach us at any time if you are having problems getting your child to school on time.

Every Minute Counts

Being absent from school a lot effects your child’s development and has a big effect on their learning, please look at the table below: Lateness = Lost Learning. Figures below are calculated over the school year.

Lateness = Lost Learning
5 minutes late each day 3 days lost in a year
10 minutes late each day 6.5 days lost in a year
15 minutes late each day 10 days lost in a year
20 minutes late each day 13 days lost in a year
30 minutes late each day 19 days lost in a year