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ST. MARY’SChurch of England Primary School

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Absence Calling ProcedureContact details to use:
School Office - leave a message023 8022 3930
Mrs Reeves - School Attendance

What can I do as a parent about absence?

By law, children are expected to attend school regularly, without patterns of absence or excuses for non-attendance.


What if my child is unwell?

We know that children are occasionally sick - and if a child has vomited or has diarrhoea we expect them to stay at home for 48 hours. Most other sickness and illnesses can be managed using medication and your child should attend school. Whilst at school, greater supervision of their needs will take place, if your child should feel worse or their situation deteriorate we will call home for you to collect your child. However, simply taking days off for headaches or head colds does not instil an appreciation for regular attendance, and will not help your child be responsible for their attendance as they become older.


What if they do not want to go to school that day?

We know that there are sometimes reasons why children do not want to attend school - perhaps issues between peers or pupils feeling overwhelmed with their work. But they still need to be regularly attending school. If your child is experiencing difficulties, come and talk to us. We want to help!


What if there is an unexpected family emergency?

We know that for many people at St. Mary's family are overseas, and in the case of emergencies - you may need to fly out to see or be with your loved ones. However, we ask that you work with family/friends to ensure that this does not impact on your child's attendance and they still attend school. The Headteacher will not authorise term-time absence and this can have a bearing on you through fixed penalty notices.


What about absence for religious observance?

We support and celebrate our pupils and parent community in observing major religious festivals. Parents/carers must follow the protocol set out in the attendance policy - submitting a clear request for the day of absence. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.


Fixed Penalty Notices (Fines)

Previously Fixed Penalty Notices were a last resort for the school. However, with increasing numbers taking advantage by holidaying during the term - we now have a zero tolerance policy on absence.


Schools can request the issue of a Penalty Notice (fine) to parents for the unauthorised absence of their child from school, where the child is of compulsory school age. If issued with a penalty notice, parents must pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days. The payment must be made directly to the Southampton City Council.


The decision on whether or not to issue a penalty notice ultimately rests with the Headteacher, following the local authority’s code of conduct for issuing penalty notices. This may take into account:

  • A number of unauthorised absences occurring within a rolling academic year
  • One-off instances of irregular attendance, such as holidays taken in term time without permission
  • When a child has been late after register closes on a number of occasions.
  • Where an excluded pupil is found in a public place during school hours without a justifiable reason. If the payment has not been made after 28 days, the local authority can decide whether to prosecute the parent

Parent/Carer Accountability

Parents and carers of children who do not regularly attend will be challenged. Those reaching an attendance level below 90% will be written to by the Headteacher to attend an 'Acceptable Attendance Contract' meeting.


The purpose of the meeting is to:

  • Explore any patterns in non-attendance the school can see and ask for an explanation
  • To instil our expectation of 100% attendance
  • To discuss recent fixed penalty notices (fines) and the reason for these
  • To agree an approach and way forward.


What does the Acceptable Attendance Contract look like?

Lates - Punctuality

Children must be on-time to school every day. Lateness for 'oversleeping' or persistent traffic will not be accepted as a valid excuse.


Schools can request the issue of a Penalty Notice (fine) to parents for the persistent lateness of their child from school, where the child is of compulsory school age.


These are issued for late arrival, after the close of registration, on 10 occasions or more during any 80 possible school sessions (within 8 school weeks). School registers will be closed after the registration period in accordance with the School’s Attendance Policy. A “U” code will then be used which denotes an unauthorised absence. If issued with a penalty notice, parents must pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days.

Rewarding Excellent Attendance

Strategy to promote attendanceHow do pupils benefit from this?
100% Club Party - Each Term
  • Children with 100% attendance throughout the term will be invited to a party.
  • In Summer 2023, pupils were treated to a bouncy castle afternoon made up of 3 inflatables!
Most-improved attendance
  • Rewards for children and families whose attendance has improved over the term!
Certificates of achievement for attendance
  • Certificates given in end of term achievement assemblies to reward our pupils.
Bikes and Scooters
  • End of Term (Autumn, Spring and Summer) we raffle bikes for those with 100% attendance throughout the year.
  • Children are able to choose from a bike or scooter!


Reduced/Part-time timetables

In rare circumstances, the school may look to temporarily reduce a child's timetable to support their well-being or as a measure to aid a child re-engaging in order to attend more regularly.


What does the law say?

  • All children of compulsory school age have a right to receive full-time education
  • Every school has a legal responsibility to provide full-time education for all of its pupils
  • Parents/carers must ensure that their children of compulsory school age, who are registered at school, attend regularly
  • Local authorities have a duty to ensure that children receive a full-time education


What is full-time education?

Whilst there is no legal definition of full-time, the following Local Government Ombudsman definition of the number of teaching hours that constitutes full-time education is widely accepted:

  • Key stage 1: 21 hours
  • Key Stage 2: 23.5 hours


When might a reduced timetable be used?

The use of a reduced timetable for your child should be an exceptional measure, but may be considered appropriate and in the best interests of an individual child in the following circumstances:

  • As part of a planned reintegration approach for children who have not attended school for a period of time due to illness, disability, mental health issues, family circumstances, post-exclusion etc.
  • As part of an in-school support package. School, parent/carer and other professionals agree that a short-term reduced timetable would support a child who has become disaffected to regain success
  • For medical reasons when a child has a serious medical condition where recovery is the priority outcome


What if my child has an Education, Health & Care Plan?

If we are considering reducing the timetable of your child and they have an EHCP the SEN Case Officer must be consulted and invited to an early annual review. The SEN Case Officer will expect to see a clear benefit to your child and a carefully planned transition to a full time timetable.

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