Rationale

At Worsthorne Primary School we recognise that attending school regularly has a positive impact on learning, progress and therefore the best life chances for children. We will encourage good attendance for all pupils, by offering an environment in which pupils feel valued and part of the school community.

Department for Education (DfE) guidance states that all schools should have effective systems and procedures for encouraging regular school attendance and investigating the underlying causes of poor attendance which should be set out in an attendance policy. These systems should be reviewed regularly and modified where necessary to reflect the circumstances of the school.
Aims
We will:

  • promote a culture across the school which identifies the importance of regular and punctual attendance;
  • make attendance and punctuality a priority for all those associated with the school; including pupils, parents, teachers and governors;
  • further develop positive and consistent communication between home and school;
  • set targets to improve individual and whole school attendance levels.

Leave of Absence

Following the September 2013 amendment to The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006, schools cannot authorise any leave other than in exceptional circumstances. In Worsthorne Primary School, the Headteacher is the person authorised by the ‘proprietor’ i.e. the governing body, to make this decision. If the leave is being requested for a holiday, approval should be obtained prior to making any bookings.

Leave of absence SHALL NOT be granted unless:

  • a request for leave has been made in advance, by a parent with whom the pupil normally resides, and
    the Headteacher considers that leave of absence should be granted due to the EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES relating to the request.

Religious Absence

The school will authorise one day of absence per religious festival, e.g. Eid, (i.e. the day set aside by the religious body of which the parent is a member) and this will be marked as ‘R’ in the register. Parents must request any additional leave in advance and this can only be authorised if it is felt that exceptional circumstances apply (this would be marked in the register as ‘C’).

Use of Penalty Notices

In accordance with the current code of conduct, Worsthorne Primary School may request that the local authority issue penalty notices in respect of unauthorised absence. This includes leave of absence which is taken without a prior request being made; and leave taken after a prior request has been made and parents have been informed that the period of absence would be classed as unauthorised but the leave is taken regardless of this advice. Worsthorne Primary School may also request that the local authority issue a penalty notice for days taken in excess of the agreed period of leave; without good reason. Parents also risk losing their child’s school place if they do not return from leave, as agreed, and re-admission cannot be guaranteed.

Partnership Working

Worsthorne Primary School will work with the Pupil Attendance Support Team, the School Attendance Consultant and other support agencies as appropriate to ensure regular attendance at school. The criteria for referral and areas of responsibility for staff will be set out in the procedural framework.

Monitoring, Analysis, Action Planning

Worsthorne Primary School will use electronic systems for monitoring attendance at both individual pupil and whole school level. We will analyse patterns and trends of non-attendance to inform future action planning and target setting in respect of whole school attendance matters.

Persistent Absence

The minimum attendance level which is expected at our school is 96%. It is when attendance falls below this level that school will consider whether it is appropriate to offer support in order to improve the situation. Both local and central government pay particular attention to reducing the number of pupils who fall into the persistent absence category (PA). From September 2015 a pupil becomes a persistent absentee when their attendance falls below 90% at any point during the school year; whether the absences are authorised or unauthorised. When attendance nears this level children miss significant amounts of schooling; meaning that their educational progress is put at risk. We need parents’ full support in ensuring that attendance does not reach this level. However, if for any reason a child’s attendance does fall into this category parents will be asked to do all they can improve the situation.
Families will be supported in this via school’s robust systems for managing PA. This support may involve the need for parents, and children of an appropriate age, to agree to a parenting contract. Due to the seriousness of PA status it is highly likely that such cases will be referred to a local authority attendance team (Pupil Attendance Support Team). Furthermore, absence data for individual pupils who are classed as persistent absentees are reported to the Department for Education; along with whole school absence figures.
Monitoring the attendance of pupils who are educated off site
The attendance of all pupils who are educated off site, or those who are dual registered, will be monitored in accordance with the procedures outlined within the procedural framework.
Review of Whole School Attendance Policy
Worsthorne Primary School will review this policy and the associated procedural framework annually.
Next review date: July 2016 (or sooner if required)

PROCEDURAL FRAMEWORK

This document forms part of Worsthorne Primary School’s whole school attendance policy. It sets out the rights, roles and responsibilities for parents/carers, pupils, school staff and governors; and the systems and procedures in place to identify how the school will deliver its aims in respect of regular and punctual attendance. It will be reviewed annually.

RIGHTS, ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Worsthorne Primary School believes that it is important that parents and carers, pupils, school staff and governors all work in partnership to encourage good attendance for all pupils. The following is a summary of the rights, roles and responsibilities for individual groups of stakeholders.

Parents and Carers

• _Ensure the child(ren) in their care attend school regularly and punctually;
• _If the child(ren) is/are absent to inform the school office on the first day of absence and provide a reason for the absence;
• _If the child(ren) is/are absent for more than 1 day, to inform the school office of the continued absence and update as to the reason for the absence regularly;
• _To avoid leave in term time wherever possible. Where this is not thought possible, contact the school as soon as possible prior to the first proposed day of absence to request authorisation;
• _To advise the school, by contacting the school office, immediately if they become aware of problems with attendance;

• _To co-operate with the school in promoting and improving attendance e.g. attending meetings, participation in parenting contracts and supporting the school in agreed intervention/action plans;
• _Adhere to systems for late registration.

Pupils

• _Attend school regularly and punctually
• _Adhere to systems for late registration
• _Acknowledge behaviour needed out of school to ensure good attendance e.g. early bedtimes

School Staff

The Headteacher has overall responsibility for ensuring that there are appropriate and efficient systems in place to promote and support the school attendance policy, that these are adhered to and training is given where appropriate. The Headteacher is also responsible for liaison with individual families, the School Attendance Consultant and the Pupil Attendance Support Team (PAST) to ensure appropriate support is given where attendance concerns are identified and for liaison with the local authority and DfE to ensure that the school conforms to all statutory requirements in respect of attendance.
However, Worsthorne Primary School believes that all staff have responsibilities and a role to play in promoting good attendance by:
• _providing a welcoming atmosphere for children;
• _providing a safe learning environment;
• _ensuring an appropriate and responsive curriculum;
• _providing a sympathetic response to any pupil’s concerns;
• _being aware of factors that can contribute to non-attendance;
• _being aware of the role all staff can play in ensuring attendance is seen as important for all pupils and parents;
• _adherence to the systems and procedures in place within school to promote good attendance and highlighting any concerns to the head teacher;
• _participation in training regarding school systems and procedures;
• _willingness to communicate with children and parents about attendance; and
• _completion of the attendance registers in accordance with the legislation and under the direction of the head teacher.

Some staff will have specific individual responsibilities to support the attendance policy and these are outlined in the procedures section of this framework.
Governors
• _Ensure compliance with The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006, as amended
• _Adopt an attendance policy and review it annually
• _Agree targets for attendance at Worsthorne Primary School
• _Ensure that they receive reports from the Headteacher regarding school attendance as part of the school monitoring or school profiling exercise
• _Where the school is not meeting its attendance target, or when the governors believe there is cause for concern, to require a review of the systems and procedures in place to promote good attendance
• _To promote the strong link between attendance and educational attainment to parents and pupils where appropriate and ensure that the school attendance policy and procedures are communicated effectively
• _Authorise the Headteacher to consider and make decisions regarding leave of absence requests
• _Work with the Headteacher in establishing criteria against which leave requests will be considered. This is important to ensure the process is equitable and consistent

PROCEDURES

Registration
Morning Registration is between 08.55am and 9.00am
Afternoon Registration is between 1.00pm and 1.05pm
Each class teacher or their nominated representative is responsible for marking children present or absent in the register at morning and afternoon registration. The registers must be completed promptly to avoid discrepancies between classes. The class teacher must ensure that the marked register, plus any notes received regarding absence, is returned to the school office by 9.05am/ 1.10pm.
The school office is responsible for entering attendance on the electronic register and for inputting absence codes on a daily basis.
Late Registration
Pupils requiring admittance to school following registration periods must go to the main entrance and request entry via the school office. For health and safety reasons parents MUST accompany late arriving pupils into the building through the front door, in order to sign their children into school.
The school office is responsible for maintaining the signing in/out book. This must contain details of name, class, time admitted/time released, reason for lateness/early departure and name of supervising adult. For health and safety reasons, after 9.00am/1.05pm an entry MUST be placed in the signing in book before a pupil is admitted or released.
In accordance with current guidance, the attendance registers are closed at 9.30am/1.15pm. This means that any pupil who arrives after the registration period (8.55 to 9.00am/1.00 to 1.05pm) but before the registers are closed (9.30am/1.15pm) will be given a late mark (L) in the register. This code is classed as a present mark, but displays that the pupil arrived late for school. Any pupil who arrives after the registers have closed (9.30am/1.15pm) but before the end of the session, will be given a “late after registers closed” mark (U) in the register. This code is classed as an unauthorised absence but displays that the pupil was physically present in school for part of the session.

The fact that the U code is classed as an unauthorised absence means that when it is used pupils are likely to be missing significant amounts of schooling; putting their educational progress at risk. For this reason the use of this code will be considered as serious as any other unauthorised absence and will attract the interest of external agencies, including referral to the local authority attendance team and consideration of the use of legal measures, in just the same way.

Authorised and Unauthorised Absence

In every instance it is the Headteacher who determines whether an absence is recorded as authorised or unauthorised. This decision is made based on information provided by parents/carers. However, because the register is a legal document, the Headteacher has responsibility to ensure that it is completed accurately and in accordance with the legislation. For this reason it is not sufficient for an absence to be recorded as authorised based entirely on information provided by parents/carers. Therefore, there may be occasions when it will be necessary for parents to provide evidence of reasons for absence before authorisation is granted. For example, in the case of absence due to illness or medical appointment, evidence may be requested in the form of: sight of a prescription, prescribed medication, a medical appointment card or similar.

The school office is responsible for maintaining records of reason and length of absence.
• _Parents/Carers are required to contact the school office or class teacher on the first day of absence, advising of the reason for the absence and expected return date; if known
• _Where a verbal message is taken by school office staff this should be noted in the register and the class teacher informed
• _Where a written note is received by the class teacher this should be returned to the school office with the register
• _Where the absence is for several days, the parent/carer is responsible for informing the school of the continued absence and updating them as to the reason for the absence on a regular basis
• _Where no explanation for absence is provided, or the reason provided is unsatisfactory, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised and will be addressed with parents promptly
• _Schools have a responsibility to report such absence to the local authority after a period of 10 school days, or sooner if appropriate

• _The reason for absence should be linked directly to the pupil (e.g. illness or medical appointment of/for the child). Reasons for absence relating to parents or siblings may not be authorised

If a child is absent and no contact has been made by the family, the school office will contact the family on the first day of absence, as the registers close at 9.30am. If contact cannot be made the Headteacher should be informed and, in the case of prolonged or repeated absence without justification being given, the Headteacher will determine whether a referral to the Pupil Attendance Support Team should be made.

The Headteacher is responsible for determining what is classed as authorised and what is classed as unauthorised absence.

Examples of authorised absence:

• _Medical or dental appointments, which relate directly to the pupil and unavoidably fall during the school day (evidence may be required prior to authorisation)
• _Illness of the pupil (evidence may be required prior to authorisation)
• _Leave which has been authorised by the Headteacher due to exceptional circumstances

Examples of unauthorised absence:

• _Parents/carers keeping children off school unnecessarily
• _truancy before or during the school day
• _absences which have never been properly explained
• _children who arrive at school after the register has closed
• _shopping, looking after other children or birthdays
• _day trips and leave in term time which have not been agreed
• _days that exceed the amount of leave agreed by the Headteacher

The school office is responsible for inputting the appropriate absence code on the electronic register. Where they are not certain whether an absence is authorised or not they should seek advice from the Headteacher.

Office staff may also use the comments facility within SIMS in order to log specific reasons for absence. This facility will allow school staff to monitor and manage developing patterns of absence more effectively and share such information with parents.

Signing Out

The school office is responsible for overseeing the procedure for releasing children where parents/carers have requested and been granted leave during the school day.

The child(ren) can only be released to a parent or authorised carer/family member. When an authorised adult is picking up a child within school time the school office is responsible for ensuring that they (the authorised adult) complete and sign the school signing out book (see above for details of requirements). The school office is responsible for inputting the appropriate absence code on the electronic register.

When a child leaves the school site after the morning or afternoon register has been taken, the original mark must remain in the register and the signing in/out book should be referred to during an evacuation situation to ensure all pupils can be accounted for.

Leave of Absence

Following the September 2013 amendment to The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006, schools cannot authorise any leave other than in exceptional circumstances. In Worsthorne School the Headteacher is the person authorised by the ‘proprietor’ i.e. the governing body, to make this decision. If the leave is being requested for a holiday, approval should be obtained prior to making any bookings.

Leave of absence SHALL NOT be granted unless:
• _a request for leave has been made in advance, by a parent with whom the pupil normally resides, and
• _the Headteacher considers that leave of absence should be granted due to the EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES relating to the request.

Additional Factors for Consideration

Pupils attend school for a maximum of 190 days each academic year. Regular attendance is vital for your child’s educational progress. The local authority expects that all parents/carers ensure their children attend school whenever possible. Absence during school time is largely prohibited by regulation and hinders academic progress. Even in exceptional circumstances, the following factors may be taken into account when considering an application for leave:
• _Will leave at this point in time be detrimental to the pupil’s education?
• _Will he/she miss any national tests or examinations?
• _Is his/her attendance a cause for concern?
• _Is the proposed absence during the month of September or any other transition period?
• _Has he/she already had leave during term time this year?
• _Did he/she have leave of absence during term time in the previous school year(s)?
• _Does he/she have any absences which have been recorded as unauthorised this year?

If work commitments are stated as supporting evidence towards an exceptional reason for requesting leave, parents will be asked to provide employer details and any additional evidence which shows why leave cannot be taken during the school holidays.

Parents/Carers who need to request leave during term time should complete an application form, available from the school office as soon as possible prior to the first proposed date of absence. The Headteacher will consider the request and advise in writing within 5 days whether the absence will be authorised or not. The Headteacher may request a meeting with parents before any period of leave is authorised.

Use of Penalty Notices

The school takes unauthorised absence seriously and, particularly in the case of repeated unauthorised absences, will undertake further liaison with the family, pupil, the School Attendance Consultant and the Pupil Attendance Support Team as appropriate. Furthermore, Worsthorne Primary School may request that the local authority issue penalty notices in respect of unauthorised absence. This includes leave which is taken without a prior request being made; and leave taken after a prior request has been made and parents have been informed that the period of absence would be classed as unauthorised but the leave is taken regardless of this advice.

Worsthorne Primary School may also request that the local authority issue a penalty notice for days taken in excess of the agreed period of leave; without good reason. Parents also risk losing their child’s school place if they do not return from leave, as agreed, and readmission cannot be guaranteed.

The school office is responsible for recording leave requests in the electronic register and will retain copies of correspondence regarding requested leave of absence for 3 years. They will also be responsible for highlighting to the Headteacher if absence continues after the notified period. In this instance the Headteacher will undertake further liaison with the family, pupil, the School Attendance Consultant and the Pupil Attendance Support Team as appropriate and a Penalty Notice may be considered.

Monitoring, Analysis and Action Planning

The governors have determined that the Headteacher has overall responsibility for the monitoring, analysis and action planning of school attendance. The Headteacher is also responsible for ensuring that data is returned promptly to the local authority and DfE within deadlines. However, it is expected that the day to day implementation of this will largely rest with the class teachers who take the register and highlight causes of concern and the school office who are responsible for maintaining the school records on attendance and for highlighting causes for concern.

The Headteacher will review the attendance records at least once every half term to check that there are no outstanding causes for concern and that codes are being used consistently. In addition, the Headteacher will address specific concerns as they arise.

The Headteacher is required to review this whole school attendance policy and procedural framework annually and to report on attendance matters to the governors termly. The governors will also review the attendance policy at least annually to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the school.

If there is a trend of worsening attendance in a particular group of pupils, including pupils who belong to any vulnerable group, discussions should be held between the Headteacher and appropriate staff to agree action plans to reverse the trend. It should also be reported to the governors at the next full governor’s meeting.

Criteria and Systems for referral to and working with the School Attendance Consultant and the Pupil Attendance Support Team
The Headteacher is responsible for ensuring consistent referral of regular or unjustified absence. The criteria for referral are outlined in the systems below:
A request for support will be made to the local authority attendance team (Pupil Attendance Support Team) when:
• _School have informed parents of their concerns regarding attendance
• _School have attempted to employ appropriate strategies in order to improve attendance
• _School strategies have failed to prompt the required amount of improvement in attendance OR parents refuse to engage with school support

In addition to the above, the Headteacher can discuss general attendance matters with the School Attendance Consultant. The purpose of such discussions would be to:
• _Monitor progress towards targets, highlighting any concerns and identifying any action required
• _To receive guidance on latest best practice
• _To receive information about local and national trends and benchmarking
• _To discuss whether current attendance policy and procedures are effective

School System for dealing with concerns about Lateness and Absence
The school office is responsible for advising the Headteacher of pupils who are persistently late or absent as issues arise.

The class teacher is also responsible for raising concerns about lateness or absence of class members to the Headteacher as issues arise.
In addition, the Headteacher will use electronic systems to monitor the attendance of individual pupils at least once per half term.

Once concerns have been raised:
• _The Headteacher will discuss the matter informally with the family (including the pupil)
• _Parents and children, if appropriate, will be asked to agree to a parenting contract, or take part in attendance panels, which will include the setting of targets and will be reviewed regularly
• _When persistent lateness is an issue and/or parents fail to follow procedures by not accompanying late arriving pupils into school to sign them in, this will be communicated to parents via letter or a meeting in school as appropriate
• _If lateness/absence persists, and school procedures fail to promote the required level of improvement, the Headteacher will contact the Pupil Attendance Support Team who will attend meetings with the family and Headteacher as appropriate and help school determine whether any further interventions are required. These interventions will include consideration of the use of legal measures (penalty notices and prosecution)
• _Incentive and reward schemes will be used for individual pupils, as appropriate.

Alternative provision and use of directions

There are a range of reasons why pupils might be required to access educational provision at a venue other than their main school. The main reasons are listed below:
• _Pupils who have been excluded, either for a fixed period (for more than 5 days) or permanently,
• _When a pupil is unable to access provision at their main school for medical reasons

• _When a pupil is required to attend another venue for the purpose of improving behaviour; either on a temporary basis or with a view to making a permanent move to the alternative provision (managed move)

When a pupil is required to attend alternative provision, the governors of the main school must issue a written ‘direction’ informing all parents of the alternative provision which their child is required to attend.

Pupils who are unable to attend school for medical reasons
The introduction of new statutory guidance on 1st September 2014 places much more emphasis on the role of governing bodies in ensuring that pupils with medical conditions are able to fully access education in the same way as other pupils. A key element of this responsibility is reducing the amount of time missed by these pupils; whether their condition is short or long term. The school will work with parents and other relevant professionals to minimise absence for reasons of ill health. This may be as a result of specific practices or resources used within school or by sourcing more appropriate provision at another establishment. When education is to be provided at an alternative location, this will always be done via the use of a direction (please see the relevant section of this policy).
School System for reintegrating pupils who have had long term absence
When a pupil has been absent from school for an extended period, the Headteacher, the class teacher and other support services will liaise with the family to ensure that a smooth reintegration is achieved.

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