Attendance and Leave of Absence in Term-Time Application Forms

Parents may download a Leave of Absence form at the bottom of this page

Clarification of the authorising or un authorising of attendance during term time (Reviewed September 2016)

The decision to authorise absence is at the head teacher’s discretion based on their assessment of the situation. Circumstances vary from school to school and so there can be no absolute rules on this subject, which is why schools vary on their decisions.  

Term times are for education. This is the priority. Children and families have 175 days off school to spend time together, including weekends and school holidays. As a good school we rightly prioritise attendance and our default school policy is that absences will not be granted during term time and will only be authorised in exceptional circumstances. Therefore if an event can reasonably be scheduled outside of term time then it would not be normal to authorise absence. Absence during term time for holidays/vacations is therefore not considered an exceptional circumstance.  Absences to visit family members are also not normally granted during term time if they could be scheduled for holiday periods or outside school hours. Children may however need time to visit seriously ill relatives.   Absence for a bereavement or wedding of a close family member is usually considered an exceptional circumstance but for the funeral or wedding service only, not extended leave.  Absences for important religious observances are often taken into account but only for the ceremony and travelling time, not extended leave. This is intended for one off situations rather than regular or recurring events. Absence to visit other secondary schools by Y6 pupils, other than through formal transition arrangements will also be considered an unauthorized absence.  The School may also wish to take into account the needs of the families of service personnel, if they are returning from long operational tours that prevent contact during scheduled holiday time. Clearly families may also need time together to recover from trauma or crisis.

Any of the examples above are provided for illustration purposes only and are not exhaustive.  The principle for defining exceptional circumstances is that they are rare, significant, unavoidable and short and by unavoidable we mean that they could not reasonably be scheduled at another time. 

Attendance at this School is historically very good. The School works closely with all parents to ensure good attendance. Individual children's attendance is monitored on a half termly basis and where attendance falls below 90% parents are contacted directly and a series of solutions are implemented to ensure improvements. In the past this has worked and the School has not felt it necessary to take any further action.
 
The School works closely with the Educational Welfare Officer of the LA where there are any concerns regarding attendance these officers are involved at an early stage.

What to do if your child is absent - to avoid the Police calling!
 
Procedures are as follows:
  • Parents must contact School before 9.30am on the first day of absence (by email or telephone) or have previously completed and returned a holiday form.
     
  • The School will check registers at the start of the School day and compare absences on the register with the list of parents who have contacted School or returned a holiday form.
     
  • If we discover that there are any children for which we have no information regarding their ‘where abouts’ we will ring the relevant contact numbers that you have all provided.
     
  • If for any reason we are unable to make personal contact by 10.30am we will then ring the police and ask them to take the appropriate action.
 
Clearly it is important that parents ensure that contact details are up to date to avoid the unnecessary involvement of the police.
 
Parents are also reminded that written reasons for absence either by email or on paper is required when a child returns to school. This is a legal requirement.

I apologise that this all seems very dictatorial, but I hope you will agree that these arrangements are robust and in the best interests of all our children.

The government has now introduced a new National Scheme as part of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003. It is hoped that we will not need to use any of the following measures, but they are outlined below as part of our legal duty to keep parents informed of our attendance procedures.

What is the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003?

Section 23 of the Act gives powers to the Local Education Authority and other designated bodies to issue Penalty Notices where a parent/carer is considered capable of, but unwilling to secure an improvement in their child's school attendance. The powers came into force on the 27th February 2004.

Why has it been introduced?

Reducing absence from school is a key priority nationally and locally because missing school damages a pupil's attainment levels, disrupts school routines and the learning of others, and can leave a pupil vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and youth crime. Above all missing school seriously affects children's longer term life opportunities. 

What is a Penalty Notice?

Under existing legislation, parents/carers commit an offence if a child fails to attend regularlyand the absences are classed as unauthorised (those for which the school cannot or has not given permission). Depending on circumstances such cases may result in prosecution under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996.

A Penalty Notice is an alternative to prosecution, which does not require an appearance in Court whilst still securing an improvement in a pupil's attendance. Payment of a Penalty Notice enables parents to discharge potential liability for conviction.

How are they issued?

By post to your home.

When are they used?

North Lincolnshire considers that regular attendance at school is of such importance the Penalty Notices may be used in a range of situations where unauthorised absences occur:-
  • Overt truancy (including pupils found during truancy sweeps).
  • Inappropriate parentally-condoned absence.
  • Holidays in term time without prior school permission.
  • Persistent late arrival at school (after the Register has closed).
  • Delayed return to school following an exclusion.
In every case a pupil will have had a minimum of 10 school sessions (ie 5 school days) lost to unauthorised absence during the previous 6 months before a Penalty Notice is considered.

The Authority never takes such action lightly and would far rather work with parents/carers to improve attendance without have to resort to any enforcement actions. Attendance is of such importance to all of us however that the Authority will use the powers if this is the only way of securing a child's schooling.

Is a Warning Given? 

Yes, you will receive a written warning of the possibility of a Notice being issued, which will tell you the extent of your child's absences and give you 15 school days in which to effect an improvement. In the meantime your child must have no unauthorised absences from school. 

You may not receive such a warning in cases of absences from school when a pupil has been taken on holiday during term time and the absence has not been authorised by the school.

There is no limit to the number of times formal warnings of possible Penalty Notice issues may be made in any particular case.
 
Is there an appeal process?
 
There is no statutory right of appeal once a Penalty Notice has been issued, but on receipt of a warning you can make representations such as you wish.

How do I pay? 

Details of payment arrangements will be included on the Penalty Notice. You need to be aware that payment in part or by installments is not an option with Penalty Notices.

What happens if I do not pay? 

You have up to 42 days from receipt to pay the Penalty Notice in full, after which the authority is required under the Act to commence proceedings in the Magistrates Court for the original offence of poor attendance by your child. If proven , this can attract a range of fines up to £2,500 and/or a range of disposals such as Parenting Orders or Community Sentences depending upon circumstances.

Can I be prosecuted if I pay the Penalty Notice but my child is still missing school? 

Not for the period included in the Penalty Notice - payment discharges you liability in this respect. However, it may be the case that a prosecution might be considered for further periods of poor attendance not covered by the Notice, depending upon the circumstances. If this is an issue, it is vital that you work closely with your child's school and support agencies such as the Education Welfare Service.

Can get help if my child is not attending regularly? 

Yes, the Education Authority you child's school will give you advice and support if you need help to secure an improvement in your child's attendance. It is very important that you speak with the school or with the Education Welfare Service at the earliest opportunity if you have any worries at all about securing your child's attendance.

Each School has a named Education Welfare Officer. 

Education Welfare Service 
Church Square House
High Street
North Lincolnshire
DN15 6NL
Tel: 01724 297502
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Broughton Admin,
21 Sep 2016, 06:14
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Broughton Admin,
21 Sep 2016, 06:16