Authorised Absence and Unauthorised Absences

Attendance Policy November 2016 (2)

Many children are absent from school for very sensible reasons. If your child is absent from school please notify us on the first morning of absence. You can simply tell the class teacher or telephone the school. If children are feeling particularly unwell or, for example, have a rash, parents should seek medical advice before returning them to school. Not giving a reason for your child’s absence may result in your child’s absence being unauthorised. Holidays during term time will not be authorised unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Attendance is monitored by the Education Welfare Officer, every two weeks. All pupils are expected to have attendance of 95% or above. If attendance drops below 90%, you will receive a School Attendance Letter informing you of this. If attendance does not improve, you will be issued with a second School Attendance Letter and asked to provide medical evidence each time your child is absent from school. Ninety per cent is not good attendance and indicates there may be issues that have to be addressed. It means that every two weeks your child has missed a day’s education. Over a full school year they will be absent for four weeks and the missed work will not all be caught up.

Tips for good attendance

  • Good habits start early in life, so even before your child starts school, establish good routines, such as reading before bedtime and going to bed on time
  • If your child is too ill to go to school, tell the school as soon as possible on the first day of absence. They will be concerned if they hear nothing
  • If your child is off school, you must let the school know why and tell them when they can expect your child back at school
  • Make all appointments for the doctor, dentist, optician etc after school hours or during the school holidays where possible
  • If your child starts missing school, help the school to get your child back on track. Make sure that your child knows you don’t approve of them missing school
  • If you do want your child to miss school for a special occasion, you must apply for the school’s authorisation well in advance of the date
  • Take an active interest in your child’s school work and offer support with homework
  • Make sure that your child understands the benefits of regular attendance
  • Don’t let your child stay off school for a minor ailment
  • Don’t book holidays in term-time and don’t expect the school’s authorisation if you do.

At Woodthorne we actively promote good school attendance and a punctual start to each day. Parents and carers have a duty to ensure their child has an appropriate education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. Parental support is crucial in ensuring that children do well with their studies and are able and confident in taking the next step to secondary school. Those who give encouragement and make sure that their children regularly attend school actively make a huge difference to their child’s future success and happiness.

You’ll need to contact school if your child is absent because of illness or a hospital appointment. If your child doesn’t turn up and you haven’t explained why, the school will telephone you

 Authorised absence

Only school can authorise a child’s absence, following guidelines set out by the Local Authority and the Department for Children, Schools and Families. There are very few reasons why absence may be authorised and they include:

  • Sickness that requires the child to stay off
  • Days of religious observance
  • Exceptional family circumstances, eg. bereavement
  • Medical appointment (but only for the duration of the child’s appointment).

Frequently asked questions

Is schooling compulsory?
Schooling is not compulsory but education is. Parents have a legal duty to make sure that their children are properly educated according to their age, ability, aptitude and any special needs they may have.

If your child is a registered pupil at a school, it is your responsibility to ensure that your child(ren) attend school regularly and arrive on time.

When do children have to be educated?
Children must receive an education when they are of compulsory school age. A child becomes of compulsory school age from the start of the school term following their fifth birthday and ceases to be on the last Friday in June of the school year in which they are 16 years old.

The school say that my child’s attendance is 90 per cent, which I think is very good. Should I be concerned?
Yes you should be concerned. Ninety per cent is not good attendance and indicates there may be issues that have to be addressed. It means that every two weeks your child has missed a day’s education. Over a full school year they will be absent for four weeks and the missed work will not all be caught up.

The school were concerned when I asked for my child to have time off for a family holiday. My child rarely has any other time off school.
If your child has a week off, they will miss several lessons of English and mathematics as well as all the other educational opportunities available, depending on how the school organises its lessons. Work missed while on holiday is not all caught up and leaves gaps in the pupil’s knowledge.

You should not expect your child’s school to grant leave of absence for a family holiday during term-time. Our school will not authorise absence for family holidays taken during term time unless there are very exceptional circumstances. The fact that a holiday is cheaper during term-time will not be considered as an exceptional circumstance.

If I take my child out of school for a family holiday without authorisation, what will happen?
The absence will be recorded as unauthorised and you may be issued with a Penalty Notice. If your child’s absence is already a cause for concern, you may be prosecuted with the holiday absence as part of the Local Authority’s evidence.

What should I do if my child is going to be absent from school?
You should contact your child’s school on the first morning of any absence – either by telephone or in person. You should tell the school the reason for your child’s absence and indicate when you think he/she is likely to return. You should also do this if your child is going to be late.

Can I authorise my child’s absence from school?
No. Only schools can authorise absence. Parents are required to provide an explanation for any absence. It is for the school to decide whether the reason for the absence is acceptable. If it thinks the reason is acceptable, it will authorise the absence. If it doesn’t think the reason is acceptable, it will record the absence as unauthorised.

What is unauthorised absence from school?
Unacceptable reasons for absence are unauthorised. Pupils should not be absent because of shopping, having a haircut, birthday or Christmas treats, looking after brothers or sisters at home, waiting for a workman or delivery, working or oversleeping, holidays not agreed in advance by the school, and truanting.

If you allow your child to be absent from school without good reason, the school will not authorise the absence, you will be committing an offence and you could be issued with a Penalty Notice or prosecuted.

Why is regular attendance important?
Children who have poor school attendance records are much more likely to underachieve and leave school with no, or few, relevant qualifications. Pupils who are absent from school are more likely to become involved in criminal or antisocial behaviour, or become victims of it.

How can I help minimise the time my child has off school?
Make all appointments for the doctor, dentist, optician etc after school hours or during school holidays. Do not arrange holidays during school time. Ensure that they are during school holiday periods. Make sure your child is never late for school; sometimes tummy aches and headaches can be the result of a child worrying about being late for school. Your child should only be off school if they are too ill to attend.

What can I do to help?
Take an active interest in your child’s education. Listen to them read, help them with their homework, visit the school often, and enquire how your child is doing. Set them a target to improve their attendance over the previous term and reward them for very good attendance.

How do schools work out my child’s attendance?
Schools count each day as two sessions – morning and afternoon. Your child has to attend every session to achieve 100 per cent attendance for that week. If your child has a half-day absence, they would have a 90 per cent attendance for that week; if they had a whole day off school, their attendance would be 80 per cent. If your child is absent for the whole week, they would be given 0 per cent attendance.

A form for holiday requests during term time can be downloaded here: Holiday during term time leaflet