‘In our Catholic School, with God at the centre of our lives, we offer every child a high standard of education. We meet individual needs, in a caring and loving community, which celebrates our faith’.
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
Holy Family Catholic Primary School recognises that positive behaviour and good attendance are essential in order to raise standards of pupil attainment and to give every child the best educational experience possible.
This policy is written with the above statement in mind and underpins our school ethos to:
For our children to gain the greatest benefit from their education it is vital that they attend regularly and be at school, on time, every day the school is open unless the reason for the absence is unavoidable. It is a rule of this school that pupils must attend every day, unless there are exceptional circumstances and it is the Headteacher not the parent, who can authorise the absence.
Any absence affects the pattern of a child’s schooling and regular absence will seriously affect their learning. Any pupil’s absence or late arrival disrupts teaching routines and so may affect the learning of others in the same class. Ensuring a child’s regular attendance at school is a parental responsibility and permitting absence from school without a good reason creates an offence in law and may result in prosecution.
This policy has been developed in consultation with school governors, teachers, the Local Authority and parents and carers. It seeks to ensure that all parties involved in the practicalities of school attendance are aware and informed of attendance matters in school and to outline the schools commitment to attendance matters. It details the responsibilities of individuals and groups involved and the procedures in place to promote and monitor pupil attendance.
Our policy aims to raise and maintain levels of attendance by:
PROMOTING REGULAR ATTENDANCE
Helping to create a pattern of regular attendance is the responsibility of parents, pupils and all members of school staff.
To help us all to focus on this we will:
UNDERSTANDING TYPES OF ABSENCE
Every half-day absence from school has to be classified by the school (not by the parent/carer), 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 (although you may be asked to provide medical evidence for your child before this can be authorised), medical or dental appointments which unavoidably fall in school time, emergencies or other unavoidable cause.
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 Local Authority using sanctions and/or legal proceedings. Unauthorised absence includes:
School Attendance and the Law
There is no longer any entitlement in law for pupils to take time off during the term to go on holiday. In addition, the Supreme Court has ruled that the definition of regular school attendance is “in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school”.
The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 were amended in September 2013. All references to family holidays and extended leave have been removed. The amendments specify that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are "exceptional circumstances" and they no longer have the discretion to authorise up to ten days of absence each academic year.
It is a rule of this school that a leave of absence shall not be granted in term time unless there are reasons considered to be exceptional by the headteacher, irrespective of the child’s overall attendance. Only the headteacher or his/her designate (not the local authority) may authorise such a request and all applications for a leave of absence must be made in writing on the prescribed form provided by the school. Where a parent removes a child when the application for leave was refused or where no application was made to the school, the issue of a penalty notice may be requested by this school.
At Holy Family Catholic Primary School 'exceptional circumstances' will be interpreted as:
... being of unique and significant emotional, educational or spiritual value to the child which outweighs the loss of teaching time. The fundamental principles for defining ‘exceptional’ are events that are “rare, significant, unavoidable and short”. By 'unavoidable' we mean an event that could not reasonably be scheduled at another time.
We will not agree leave during term time:
Whilst any child may occasionally have time 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 a parent thinks their child is reluctant to attend school then we will work with that family to understand the root problem and provide any necessary support. We can use outside agencies to help with this such as the School Nurse, Local Authority Officers or Child and Family Support Worker.
PERSISTENT ABSENTEEISM (PA)
A pupil is defined by the Government as a ‘persistent absentee’ when they miss 10% or more schooling across the school year for whatever reason. Absence at this level will cause considerable damage to any child’s education and we need a parent/carer’s fullest support and co-operation to tackle this.
We monitor all absence, and the reasons that are given, thoroughly. If a child is seen to have reached the PA mark or is at risk of moving towards that mark we will inform the parent/carer. PA pupils are tracked and monitored carefully. We also combine this with academic tracking where absence affects attainment. All our PA pupils and their parents are subject to a school based meeting and the plan may include: allocation of additional support through the School Nurse, Local Attendance Adviser, Home School Liaison Worker, Local Authority, Family Solutions or Social Care. We may also use circle time, individual incentive programmes, individual targets and participation in group activities to support us in raising attendance.
If a child is absent from school the parent/carer must follow the following procedures:
If your child is absent we will:
The Missing Education and Child Employment Service
Parents are expected to contact school at an early stage and to work with the staff in resolving any problems together. This is nearly always successful. If difficulties cannot be sorted out in this way, the school may refer the child to the Local Authority. Local Authority Officers work with schools, families and other professionals to reduce persistent absence and improve overall attendance. If attendance does not improve, legal action may be taken in the form of a Penalty Notice (see Annex A for the Essex Code of Conduct), prosecution in the Magistrates Court or the application of an Education Supervision Order, designed to strengthen parental responsibilities and ensure improved attendance.
Poor punctuality is not acceptable. If a child misses the start of the day they can miss work and do not spend time with their class teacher getting vital information and news for the day. Late arriving pupils also disrupt lessons, can be embarrassing for the child and can also encourage absence. Good time-keeping is a vital life skill which will help our children as they progress through their school life and out into the wider world.
How we manage lateness:
At 9.00am 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. This may mean that you could face the possibility of a Penalty Notice if the problem persists. If your child has a persistent late record you will be asked to meet with the Office Manager, but you can approach us at any time if you are having problems getting your child to school on time. We expect parents and staff to encourage good punctuality by being good role models to our children and celebrate good class and individual punctuality.
If leave of absence is authorised, the school will not provide work for children to do during their absence. Parents are however advised to read with their children and encourage them to write a diary while they are away.
DELETION FROM ROLL
For any pupil leaving Holy Family Catholic Primary School, other than at the end of year 6, our Office Manager will liaise with you, as we are required to complete a ‘Pupils Moving From School’ form which is filled in online. This provides the following information: Child’s name, class, current address, date of leaving, new home address, name of new school, address of new school. This information is essential to ensure that we know and safeguard the whereabouts of all of our pupils.
The school has a legal duty to publish its absence figures to parents and to promote attendance.
Equally, parents have a duty to make sure that their children attend school, on time, every day.
All Holy Family school staff and the Governing Board are committed to working with parents and pupils as the best way to ensure as high a level of attendance as possible.
……Living, Loving, Learning Together……
ESSEX CODE OF CONDUCT
PENALTY NOTICES FOR PARENTS OF TRUANTS AND PARENTS OF PUPILS EXCLUDED FROM SCHOOL
ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR ACT 2003 SECTION 23
The purpose of this local code of conduct is to ensure that the powers are applied consistently and fairly across the local authority area and that suitable arrangements are in place for the administration of the scheme.
The Government requires Local Authorities to issue a code of conduct
The Essex code has been agreed following consultation with:
Essex Local Authority – Missing Education & Child Employment Service
Representatives from Governing Bodies and Headteachers of Essex Schools
Essex Police Service
In accordance with the Education (Penalty Notices) Regulation 2007, Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003) section 23 subsection (1) and Sections 103 to 105 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006; Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013
Anyone issuing a penalty notice to a parent* of a child of statutory school age on roll at an Essex school, must do so within the terms of this code.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 inserts into the Education Act 1996 Section 444A and Section 444B enabling authorised personnel to issue penalty notices as an alternative to prosecution under Section 444 and enable parents to discharge potential liability for conviction for that offence by paying a penalty.
Section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996 provides that if a child of compulsory school age ‘fails to attend regularly’ at the school where he is a registered pupil, his parent is guilty of an offence. On the 6th April 2017, in the case of Isle of Wight Council v Platt the Supreme Court judgement ruled that the word ‘regularly’ means ‘in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school’
Section 103 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 places a duty on parents to ensure that their child is not present during school hours in a public place during the first 5 days of exclusions. Section 105 of the Act enables a penalty notice to be issued under Section 103.
Authorisation to issue penalty notices
Primary responsibility for issuing penalty notices rests with the Local Authority (LA). It has been agreed that the Missing Education & Child Employment Service, on behalf of Essex LA, will usually issue penalty notices. The Service will administer the scheme from any funds obtained as a result of issuing penalty notices.
Headteachers (and deputy headteachers and assistant headteachers authorised by the head teacher) and police, and persons accredited by the police are all able to issue the notices under the Act, although there is no requirement for them to do so. In Essex it has been
agreed that the Police will not issue penalty notices to parents of truants, but persons accredited by them may do so. Schools will not generally issue penalty notices but where a Headteacher (or their designated deputy) or accredited person decides that a penalty notice is to be served, they must email ME&CE.firstname.lastname@example.org to ascertain if there is any current legal action. A response will be sent within 24 hours. This will avoid a penalty notice being issued when the Local Authority is instigating legal intervention proceedings for irregular school attendance.
Circumstances in which a penalty notice may be issued
Penalty Notices apply to pupils of statutory school age which finishes in year 11.
Essex partners have agreed to use penalty notices for the following circumstances:
Penalty notices may be issued where there has been at least 10 sessions of unauthorised absence during the previous ten school weeks. This includes unauthorised late arrivals, coded U, which count as unauthorised absence for the whole session.
In addition to the above criteria, due to the importance of pupils settling into school at the commencement of the school year, penalty notices may also be issued if there have been at least 6 consecutive sessions of unauthorised leave of absence during the first two weeks of September due to a term-time holiday.
Number of penalty notices which can be issued for truancy/unauthorised absence
Discretion will be used to enable up to two penalty notices to be issued to each parent for each child within a twelve month period. If the law continues to be broken around school attendance the Missing Education and Child Employment Service legal intervention process will be used.
School attendance and exclusion sweeps take place in Essex and children stopped are often with parents condoning the absence.
If the Headteacher does not authorise the absence of a pupil stopped by a Local Authority Investigation Officer and Police Officer on a sweep and there has been at least 10 unauthorised absences for that pupil during the preceding 10 schools weeks, school will issue a warning letter to the parent within 14 days. If there are any further absences that are not authorised by the head teacher, during the next 6 schools weeks the school will complete a request, signed by the Headteacher (or their designated deputy), for issue of a penalty notice and send to the Missing Education and Child Employment Service . The Missing Education and Child Employment Service may then issue a penalty notice.
Number of Penalty Notices which can be issued for pupils identified during a school attendance and exclusion sweep.
Essex will issue no more than two penalty notices to a parent in a twelve month period for pupils identified on a school attendance and exclusion sweep. If the law continues
to be broken around school attendance the Missing Education and Child Employment Service legal intervention process will be used.
When a child is excluded from school, the parent will be responsible for ensuring that their child is not found in a public place during normal school hours on the first five days of each and every fixed period or permanent exclusion. (Section 103 Education and Inspections Act)
The excluding school must have issued notice to the parent informing them of their duty and warning that a penalty notice could be issued.
Where there is more than one person liable for the offence, a separate notice may be issued to each person.
Where a pupil is present in a public place in the first five days of a fixed period exclusion the Essex Local Authority would issue a penalty notice if the school is in their area. Where the child has been permanently excluded, it would be the authority where the child resides.
Number of penalty notices which can be issued for exclusion
Essex will issue a maximum of 5 penalty notices per parent for each child during a 12 month period.
Number of penalty notices which can be issued for unauthorised leave of absence
Essex will issue no more than two penalty notices to a parent in a twelve month period for unauthorised leave of absence. If the law continues to be broken around school attendance the Missing Education and Child Employment Service legal intervention process will be used.
Payment of Penalty Notice
The penalty for each parent is £60 for each child if paid within 21 days of receipt of the notice, rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days of receipt of the notice (service by post is deemed to have been effected, unless the contrary is proved, on the second working day after posting the notice by first class post).
All penalties are paid to the LA and revenue generated is retained to administer the system and contribute towards S444 prosecutions.
If the penalty is not paid in full by the end of the 28 day period Essex Missing Education and Child Employment Service will either prosecute for the offence to which the notice applies or withdraw the notice. The prosecution is not for non-payment of the notice but is a prosecution for irregular school attendance – Education Act 1996 Section 444 (1) There is no statutory right of appeal against the issuing of a penalty notice.
Withdrawal of Penalty Notice
A penalty notice can be withdrawn in the following circumstances:
Co-ordination between the LOCAL AUTHORITY and its local partners
The Missing Education and Child Employment Service and its local partners will review this Code of Conduct regularly.
* All those defined as a parent under Section 576 Education Act 1996 are parents for the purpose of these provisions. This means that all natural parents, whether they are married or not; any person who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility (as defined in the Children Act 1989) for a child or young person; and any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person. Having care of a child or young person means that a person with whom the child lives and who looks after the child, irrespective of what their relationship is with the child, is considered to be a parent in education law. Parent means each and every parent coming within the definition (whether acting jointly or separately) and should not be taken to mean that provisions only apply to parent in the singular.
As with prosecutions under Section 444 Education Act 1996 a penalty notice may be issued to each parent liable for the offence.
** truancy/unauthorised absence is absence from school without permission or good reason and the absence is unauthorised by the school.