This policy was developed following DfE (Working Together To Improve School Attendance) and Birmingham Local Authority guidance.
Our pupils are happy to come to school and learn. With this happiness and love of learning, they attend school every day which in turn has a positive impact on their education and into their future workplace. Attending school means that children can make friends, develop their social skills and be able to work with others. As a school, we support parents of pupils who need to improve their attendance by fostering positive relationships and working together in partnership.
We use the following percentages to classify our attendance:
95% - 97% Good
90 – 94% Poor
Below 90% Unsatisfactory – officially ‘persistently absent’.
Expectations are communicated with parents at the beginning of every academic year and on a regular basis via newsletters. The table below is always included in the information shared.
Attendance during one school year
equals this number of days absent
which is approximately this many weeks’ absent
which means this many lessons missed
In communicating with parents, the link between attendance and pupils’ attainment and wider wellbeing is clarified. Poor attendance can be an indicator of a safeguarding concern. Where there are safeguarding concerns, the school will intensify support through statutory children’s social care, following the safeguarding procedures detailed in the school’s safeguarding policy.
Authorised absence means that one of the following circumstances applies:
- Illness (not medical or dental appointment) – only when the school has a genuine and reasonable doubt about the authenticity of the illness should medical evidence be requested to support the absence (see medical absence letter to be sent to parents on the instruction of the head teacher)
- Medical or dental appointment (absence should be agreed with the school in advance when it is not possible for the pupil to attend appointments out of school hours)
- Religious observance (only on dates set by a religious body)
- Fixed term exclusion
- Temporary part-time timetable to meet the individual special needs of a pupil (for a limited period)
- Participation in a performance (applied for in advance and supported by a Local Authority licence or a BOPA)
- Leave of absence granted by the school in exceptional circumstances
- Attending an approved educational activity (attending another school or taking part in off-site activities such as educational visits and sporting events)
- Unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances (school closed unavoidably; transport provided by the local authority is not available; local or national emergency resulting in widespread travel disruption).
Leave of absence
DfE and Birmingham guidelines state that head teachers may no longer authorise a leave of absence except when the leave has been requested in advance and circumstances are exceptional, for example:
- death of a parent/carer or sibling of the pupil
- life threatening or critical illness of parent of sibling of the pupil
- parent/carer recuperation and convalescence from critical illness or surgery (leave request to be made within 6 months of recovery and medical evidence required)
- leave for armed forces personnel who are prevented by operational duties to take their leave at any other time
- leave of absence already granted by a previous school (within the last 6 months and supported by documentation from the previous school).
If unauthorised leave is taken, a penalty notice may be issued, legal action may be taken or a pupil may lose their place at their current school. The penalty notice will be for a minimum amount of £60 or £120 depending on how soon payment is made. If a fine is not paid, court attendance may be required and a fine of up to £1000 per child issued. This could result in a criminal record. Unauthorised leave in excess of 20 school days consecutively may result in a child being removed from the school register.
Promoting ‘outstanding’ attendance
The school aims to encourage outstanding attendance, where the pupils’ efforts are acknowledged, and rewarded. Rewards will be various and may include:
- Termly certificates to individuals with outstanding attendance (98%+ taking into account any unavoidable medical absences)
- Prizes for attendance
- Attendance cup awarded to each class each week.
The school also promotes outstanding attendance by informing parents, pupils, staff and governors on the school newsletter as well as including information on the school Twitter feed.
We are aware that persistent lateness can have a cumulative effect and deny full access to the National Curriculum. Children will be marked late if they arrive after registration, which is 9:00am. If pupils arrive after 9:15am they will be assigned the U code, which means the session is classed as an unauthorised absence. In exceptional circumstances this time might be extended, for example, for pupils who travel via taxis to the resource base.
We discourage lateness by:
- Providing supervision for children from 8:50am
- Keeping a late book every morning and after school
- Pastoral team monitor punctuality on a daily basis and speak to parents when necessary
- Providing a breakfast club facility on site
- Each week the most punctual class is awarded the punctuality trophy.
First Day of absence
- Parents are asked to contact the school as soon as possible on each day of absence. The reason is then recorded on SIMs.
- If the school is not contacted by 9.30am, parents will be contacted by telephone in the first instance to alert them that their child is not in school and that they should contact the office to confirm absence and provide a reason for their child not being in school.
- If no contact is made, then the school will keep trying throughout the day. Other emergency contacts will be called as well to ascertain the whereabouts of the pupil. In the case of a child in care (CIC/LAC), the child’s social worker will be informed of any unexplained absence on the first day.
- Produce a daily print out of pupils who do not attend, where no reason is provided.
- If the child does not attend school the following day and no contact is made, this is then recorded on CPOMs and the pastoral team and/or DSLs are informed.
- If by day 3, a child has not attended school and no contact is made, then the CME policy is followed with subsequent home visits as part of safeguarding procedures.
- If by day 3, parents have left messages giving a reason for absence but no verbal contact has been made, the school office will call to speak to parents in person.
Strategies for tackling persistent absence and emerging concerns
- The pastoral team tracks attendance weekly and highlights any concerns to the head teacher.
- Patterns of absence and lateness are monitored and analysed by the head teacher, with the support of the pastoral and administration teams.
- Particular groups of pupils whose attendance is deemed poor or unsatisfactory are targeted. The head teacher works with other schools in the local area to share effective practice when there are common barriers to attendance.
- The school follows Birmingham Local Authority’s ‘Fast Track to Attendance’ guidance when addressing instances of poor attendance. Early Help is offered in the first instance (with a member of the pastoral team acting as lead practitioner and making referrals to outside agencies where appropriate).
- The pastoral team liaises with other schools attended by any siblings to support the Early Help process.
- In the case of pupils with an EHCP, the SENDCo liaises with all appropriate agencies to put in place additional support and adjustments to ensure the provision outlined in the pupil’s EHCP is accessed.
- If attendance does not improve following Early Help, parents are invited to a school attendance review meeting (SARM) with the head teacher, where the potential for legal intervention is made clear.
- If attendance still does not improve, the head teacher will work with Birmingham Local Authority on legal intervention.
Attendance is everyone’s responsibility
- Notify the school by phone/email by 9.30am on the first day of any absence, giving the reason for absence and the likely date of return to school.
- Ensure their children arrive at school in time for the morning register at 9.00am every day.
- Plan holidays and family visits during the school holidays.
- Plan routine dental check-ups and visits to the optician during the school holidays.
- Inform the school of any medical, optician or dental appointments in advance if they are to take place in term time.
- Apply for any leave of absence during term time at least 2 weeks prior to the start date and before making any travel arrangements.
- Avoid requesting any leave of absence during periods where there are National Curriculum assessments (beginning of April to the end of June).
- Liaise with the pastoral team, head teacher and other agencies where necessary to improve their child’s attendance when they are at risk of persistent absence.
The governing body will:
- Recognise the importance of school attendance, promote it across the school’s ethos and policies and, in consultations with senior leaders, set attendance targets that demonstrate high expectations.
- Ensure school leaders fulfil expectations and statutory duties.
- Review attendance data and progress towards attendance targets termly. Discuss and challenge trends, and help school leaders focus improvements efforts on the individual pupils or cohorts/groups who need it most.
- Ensure the link governor for safeguarding focuses on attendance.
- Ensure school staff receive adequate training on attendance.
The head teacher (DSL for attendance) will:
- Develop and maintain a whole school culture that promotes the benefits of high attendance.
- Have a clear school attendance policy (reviewed annually), which all staff, pupils and parents understand.
- Monitor the attendance and punctuality of cohorts, groups and individuals to identify immediate support needed and look at historic and emerging patterns across the school and work with staff to develop strategies to address them.
- Ensure the termly census data is completed accurately and shared with Birmingham Local Authority by the deadlines set.
- Ensure the school follows Birmingham Local Authority’s Fast Track to Attendance procedures.
- Respond to leave of absence requests in a timely manner, following the DfE and Birmingham Local Authority guidance.
- Conduct school attendance review meeting (SARM) if attendance has not improved following the Early Help process. Upload the completed SARM record sheet on CPOMs.
- In consultation with Governors, set annual targets for attendance that demonstrate high expectations.
- Inform Governors of attendance data regularly in full governing body meetings and safeguarding committee meetings.
- Reward classes with the best attendance and punctuality in assemblies on a weekly basis.
- Reward outstanding attendance in assemblies on a termly basis.
The pastoral team will:
- Provide the head teacher with a weekly report showing pupils whose attendance is 92% or below, to include notes.
- Provide the head teacher with a weekly report showing pupils who have 5 or more sessions of unauthorised absence.
- Provide the head teacher with a weekly report showing the percentage of L and U marks for each class.
- Build strong relationships with families, listen to and understand barriers to attendance and punctuality, and work with families to remove them.
- Following communication from the administration team, conduct a home visit (adhering to the school’s Home Visits Policy) on the third day of an unexplained absence and report to the head teacher.
- Consult with parents of pupils with 5 sessions of unauthorised absence or those at risk of persistent absence to understand barriers to attendance and agree actions and clear success measures, liaising with outside agencies to support the Early Help process where necessary.
- Following consultations, upload record of actions and success measures on CPOMs (see appendix).
- Write attendance certificates in the first week of every term (names to be provided by the head teacher).
Class teachers will:
- Accurately complete attendance registers on time at the start of each morning and afternoon session, using SIMs.
- If children are picked up late (3.30pm in EYFS and KS1; 3.35pm in KS2), they should be taken to the school office and their names should be recorded in the late book.
- Report any concerns or patterns relating to attendance or punctuality to the head teacher and pastoral team via CPOMs.
- Inform parents of their child’s attendance percentages at parents’ evenings.
School administrators will:
- Accurately complete admissions and attendance registers.
- Ensure SIMs has the correct information for each pupil, including contact details for two different adults.
- Support the head teacher to communicate attendance expectations to parents and carers.
- Support the head teacher to process applications for leave of absence.
- Complete the school census termly.
- Follow the first day of absence procedures.
- In the case of a child in care (CIC/LAC), inform the child’s social worker if there are any unexplained absences from school on the first day of absence. The social worker should also be informed if their name is to be deleted from the school register.
- Liaise with the local authority in the case of a child missing in education.
- Provide class teachers with attendance percentages the day before the autumn and spring parents’ evenings and the day before the end of year reports are due to go out to parents.
- Record pick up times for pupils who are in the late book.
- Provide the head teacher with a weekly report showing the attendance percentages for each class.
Birmingham Local Authority will:
- Rigorously track local attendance data.
- Have a School Attendance Support Team to provide core functions to all schools free of charge.
- Bring schools together to communicate messages, provide advice and share best practice between schools within Birmingham.
- Hold termly Targeted Support Meetings with schools.
- Provide access to multi-disciplinary support for families to tackle the causes of absenteeism.
- Provide legal intervention where voluntary support has not been successful or engaged with.