Why is attendance so important?
At St. Joseph’s we believe that children cannot learn if they are absent from school, therefore, we aim to ensure that all our children take full advantage of the educational opportunities available to them and to raise standards by promoting regular attendance and punctuality of pupils. We are committed to providing an education of the highest quality for all our pupils. We believe high attainment depends on good attendance.
St Joseph's is proudly recognised as an Inclusive Attendance school. Our unwavering commitment to attendance centres around child-centric actions, evidence-informed practices, and a shared understanding of everyone's roles and collective responsibilities to promote exceptional attendance.
Inclusive Attendance Professional Development Model
Our attendance approach is fundamentally guided by the Inclusive Attendance professional development model. Within this model, the four domains of practice ensure the provision of professional learning, professional development, evidence-based practices, and exemplary leadership and management to seamlessly integrate theory into practice.
Multi-Tiered System of Support
To guarantee a comprehensive approach to attendance, we implement a Multi-Tiered System of Support. A Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) for school attendance involves three tiers of intervention, with roles for teachers, the school, children, parents, and external agencies – including the Local Authority. Data-driven decision-making and training requirements are pivotal to the implementation of the system. The system aligns with the Department for Education's (DFE) "Working Together to Improve School Attendance" guidelines.
Our attendance philosophy is rooted in a recognition-based approach that recognises both personal and collective achievements. This approach serves to thwart isolation, prevent victimisation, cultivate positive environments, nurture relationships, foster inclusivity, and ultimately cultivate intrinsic motivation among our children, families, and staff.
The Importance of School Attendance
School attendance is not merely a requirement but a fundamental pillar of education. It plays a pivotal role in shaping academic success, personal growth, and future prospects, making it an indispensable aspect of any educational system.
- Academic Achievement: Regular attendance directly correlates with academic success. Children who attend school consistently are more likely to keep up with the curriculum, perform better in exams, and improve their life outcomes.
- Knowledge Acquisition: School is where children acquire knowledge and skills that are crucial for their personal and professional growth. Missing days means missing out on valuable learning opportunities.
- Social Development: School provides a vital social environment for children and adolescents to interact with peers, develop friendships, and learn essential social skills. Consistent attendance ensures children remain connected to their peer group.
- Building Routine: School attendance establishes a structured routine in children’s lives, teaching them time management and responsibility, which are valuable life skills.
- Teacher Interaction: Regular attendance allows for meaningful teacher-child interactions. Teachers can provide personalised support, address questions, and assess individual progress more effectively when children attend regularly.
- Preventing Knowledge Gaps: Frequent absences can lead to significant knowledge gaps, making it challenging for children to catch up with missed lessons, potentially resulting in long-term academic struggles.
- School Engagement: Children who attend school regularly are more likely to engage in extracurricular activities, sports, and other enriching experiences that contribute to their overall development.
- Legal and Parental Responsibility: Parents or guardians are legally responsible for ensuring their child's regular school attendance. Failing to do so can lead to legal consequences.
- Community Well-being: High levels of school attendance contribute to the overall well-being of communities.
What you need to know about missed school days
We expect all school personnel to support and promote excellent school attendance by acting as role models and to work hard to provide a learning environment in which all pupils are eager to learn, feel valued and enjoy coming to school.
Sometimes a pupil’s absence or lateness may not be their fault and in these circumstances it is our policy to be supportive of the child and not to make them feel guilty or inadequate. Also, at times we have to give allowances for religious beliefs and individual family circumstances.
Should children be absent from school for a medical appointment, a medical reason or prolonged illness the school will require medical evidence from the family GP or hospital.
A pupil’s absence from school must be considered as unauthorised until a satisfactory explanation is received from the parent. Only the school may authorise an absence. Notification of absence from a parent does not oblige the school to accept the explanation as a valid reason for absence. This is in accordance with the latest guidance from the DFES which states that:-
Absence can be authorised if:
- The child was absent with permission from the Head Teacher
- The child was ill or prevented from attending by an unavoidable cause. Medical evidence may be requested.
- The absence occurred on a day exclusively set aside for religious observance by the religious group to which the child’s parent belong.
- There is a family bereavement
- The child is excluded
- The child is involved in an exceptional special occasion.
Absence will not be authorised if:
- No explanation is forthcoming whether requested or not
- No evidence of a medical appointment is forthcoming whether requested or not
- The school is dissatisfied with the explanation
- The parent takes the child shopping during school hours
- The pupil is absent for unexceptional special occasions (eg birthday)
- The LA is in the process of undertaking statutory action for non school attendance.
A penalty notice may be issued to each parent/carer liable for the offence or offences. The cost of a penalty notice is £120 per pupil, reduced to £60 if paid within 21 days. There is no right of appeal against the issuing a penalty.
Procedures for following up absence
If a child is absent without an explanation being received, the school will contact the parents. If the absentee is a child about whom there are concerns, the Headteacher will inform the Educational Welfare Officer and will make every effort to contact the parents immediately. If a child is persistently or intermittently absent or late, the Headteacher will write to the parents drawing attention to this. If the situation does not improve, parents will be invited to attend a meeting at the school. The Local Authority may be informed.
When a child returns to school after a period of absence, a note should be provided to explain the absence. Notes from parents will be sent by the class teacher to the school office each day. All telephone messages regarding absence/lateness are recorded.
The school discourages lateness as it disrupts both the education of the pupil concerned and of others. All children who arrive late (after 8.55 am) must report to the reception office and must be signed into the late book with a reason for lateness recorded. This process must be completed by the child’s parent or carer. This book is kept both for monitoring purposes and for accounting in an emergency.
Arrival between 8.55 am and 9.20 am will be coded as ‘L’ (Late)
Arrival after 9.20 am will be coded as “U” . Non attendance for the morning session will be recorded as “O” (Unauthorised)
If a satisfactory explanation is received, the period in which the child is late may be treated as an authorised absence (e.g. medical appointments)
We believe it is essential to regularly remind parents of the importance of good attendance and its links to pupil attainment. The Education Act 1996 clearly states that the prime responsibility of parents/carers is to ensure that their children attend school regularly.
The Department for Education's (DfE) changes to The Education (Pupil Registration)(England) Regulations 2006 have removed all reference to family holiday and extended leave, as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days.
- From 1 September 2013, headteachers are unable to agree leave of absence during term time unless they are satisfied there are exceptional circumstances.
- Should absence be agreed, headteachers can specify the number of days a pupil will be allowed to be absent from school.
- Where leave of absence is not agreed and the pupil is out of school or the pupil is away longer than was agreed or an application has not been made in advance, the absence is recorded as unauthorised.
- Headteachers cannot give retrospective approval.
- Where leave of absence is taken for a holiday that has not been authorised, a headteacher may request the local authority to issue a Penalty Notice.
- Penalty Notices are issued to each parent for each child who is absent without the agreement of the headteacher.