At Orchard we recognise the importance of regular school attendance and believe that children can only learn effectively if they attend school every day. It is also vitally important that children arrive and leave school on time.
Responsibilities of Parents
There are legal obligations on parents/carers to secure education for their children of compulsory school age, whether at school or otherwise and to send them to school regularly once they are on the school roll. If the school is to achieve its attendance targets, parents/carers must see themselves as partners with the school in their children's education and support the school in the following ways:
- ensure the fullest possible attendance of their child.
- when absence is unavoidable, provide a verbal or written explanation, on the first day of absence.
- when absence continues for more than a day, contact the school by phone or letter each day to update the school.
- ensure that their child arrives at school and is collected from school on time
Notification of Absence
All parents/carers are asked to contact the school to advise them of their child’s absence and providing a reason for the absence. This can be done by:
- telephone: the school administrator/Safeguarding & Inclusion Lead will then pass the message to the class teacher and enter the reason for absence directly into the register
- letter: the class teacher will place the letter in the register and enter the reason for absence into the register
- personally: an explanation may be given personally to either the class teacher or another member of staff. This will then be entered into the register.
- email: by emailing the school email address: email@example.com. This will then be entered into the register.
If your child is not at school and we have not heard from you by 9.15am then we will start to call each of the contact numbers that you have provided in order to gain an explanation for the absence.
If we still have not been able to ascertain where your child is then we will make a home visit. However, if we still haven’t been able to get a response and we have a concern for your child’s welfare then we may have to report it to the police as your child will then be classed a ‘missing child’.
Authorised and Unauthorised Absence
Where a child is absent at the time of registration the law requires schools to indicate on their attendance register whether the absence is authorised or unauthorised.
Authorised absence means that the school has either given approval in advance for the child to be away or that we have received information on the first day of absence and are satisfied the absence is for a valid reason to be taken within term time. The law requires that absences not agreed in advance to be recorded as unauthorised unless and until a satisfactory explanation is given.
Parents/carers are asked to complete a Leave of Absence Form requesting an absence from school. The school will then arrange a meeting with the parent/carer to discuss the outcomes of the absence requested and whether the absence will be recorded as authorised or unauthorised. The outcome of the meeting will be confirmed in a follow up letter. With regards to absences of more than 10 days, it is at the discretion of the school as to whether the child remains on the school roll.
By law, only the school can approve absence, not parents/carers. The school need not accept a parental explanation for a child's absence if they doubt the explanation. If the school is satisfied that the circumstances are both genuine and exceptional then absence may be authorised. Where parentally condoned, or a child is persistently absent, and/or an unjustified absence appears to be a problem the school will involve the Senior Leadership Team, LEA or Courts at the earliest opportunity.
Excessive amounts of authorised/unauthorised absences can disrupt continuity of learning. The school will therefore watch for emerging patterns of authorised/unauthorised absences by individual children. If a child has 10 unauthorised sessions (a session is one am or pm session) over 12 school weeks then a warning letter will be sent to parents. If attendance does not improve then the school may refer the parents to the Local Authority.
Fixed Penalty Notices will be issued by Education Inclusion and Partnership Team for unauthorised holiday absence during term time, payable direct to the Local Authority. The Penalty Notice is £120 per parent/adult for each student to be paid within 28 days, decreasing to £60 if paid within 21 days. If the Penalty Notice is not paid within 28 days, the Local Authority may instigate legal proceedings under section 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996. If found guilty of an offence under this Act, parents will receive a criminal record and could be fined up to £1000.
It is our policy at Orchard Academy to actively discourage the late arrival of children at school. A child who arrives late may seriously disrupt not only his or her continuity of learning but also that of others. A firm line is taken on late arrivals. Where children miss registration altogether, they are marked in the late book with their time of arrival along with the reason for lateness. Registration opens at 8.40am and the expectation is that all children will be in their classes by 8.40am. Registers close at 9am.
If a child is late for registration 10 times in any 12 school week period then a warning letter will be sent to parents. This can include before and after school holidays. If a child is late again within the 3 weeks following a warning then an informal attendance meeting will be requested. Following the attendance meeting, persistent lateness may also result in the request for a LA Fixed Penalty Notice of £60/£120 if improvements are not made following discussions with the Safeguarding & Inclusion Lead.