- Kingsmoor Lower School, Kingsmoor Close, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, MK45 1EY
We believe that good attendance and punctuality are vital for high attainment, outstanding progress and ensuring the best life chances of our pupils. We are committed to providing an education of the highest quality for all our pupils / students and endeavor to provide an environment where all pupils feel valued and welcome. Parents and pupils play a part in making our school successful. Every child has a right to access the education to which he / she is entitled. Parents and teachers share the responsibility for supporting and promoting excellent school attendance and punctuality for all. It is our duty to consistently strive to achieve a goal of 100% attendance for all children. Every opportunity will be used to convey to pupils and their parents or carers the importance of regular and punctual attendance. If children are to gain the most from their education, they need to attend school every day, on time, unless the reason for absence is unavoidable.
Promoting good attendance and punctuality
To ensure our pupils attend school regularly, and on time, we will:
- Make attendance and punctuality a priority for everyone in our school community.
- Report to parents at least termly on their child’s attendance and punctuality.
- Celebrate and reward good or improving attendance and punctuality.
- Put reminders in newsletters to raise the importance of regular attendance and punctuality at induction meetings.
- Contact parents when their child’s attendance or punctuality gives cause for concern.
- Set targets to improve whole-school and individual attendance.
Legal measures for failing to ensure regular school attendance
Section 7 of The Education Act 1996 requires parents to secure the attendance of their children of compulsory school age.
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable:
- To his age, ability and aptitude, and,
- To any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise
The following legal measures may be used for children of compulsory school age who are registered at a school and are not attending regularly:
- Penalty Notices: The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003
- Magistrates Court Action under Sec 444 (1) and (1a) of the Education Act 1996
Central Bedfordshire Council’s Code of Conduct for Penalty Notices states that where a child has had 10 unauthorised absences in a 12 school week period, the school may request a penalty notice to be issued. The code of conduct is a statutory document that ensures that the powers for this legal sanction are applied consistently and fairly across all schools and their families within the authority.
Penalty Notices can be issued when
- A pupil has taken holiday during term-time and the absence has not been authorised by the school, providing the school has taken into account DfE guidance to inform its decision making.
- Where the school believes that the sanction will lead to an improvement in attendance e.g. persistent late arrival at school; parents failing to attend or co-operate at a parenting contract meeting.
Parents and carers will be alerted about the possibility of a penalty notice being requested for unauthorised absence via the school’s newsletter, through the leave of absence request form, or through the school’s attendance policy and website.
If more than one parent has parental responsibility, both parents will receive a penalty notice. In situations where there is more than one child in a family with irregular school attendance, multiple penalty notices can be issued to the same parents during the year. However, this action is subject to careful consideration and co-ordination.
Understanding types of absence
Children are expected to attend school every day for the duration of the academic year, unless there is an unavoidable reason for the absence. There are two main categories of absence.
An absence is authorised when the school has accepted the explanation offered as satisfactory justification for the absence or given approval in advance for such an absence. If no explanation is received, absences cannot be authorised.
An absence is unauthorised when the school has not received a reason for the absence or has not approved a child’s leave of absence from school after a parent’s request.
Unauthorised absences are likely to include:
- Children being kept off school unnecessarily
- Shopping trips
- Looking after other children
- Absences which have not been explained
A school can, if necessary, change an authorised absence to an unauthorised absence and vice versa if new information is presented. Any changes will be communicated to parents. An example of this would be where a parent states a child is unwell but on return to school there is evidence they have been on holiday.
Requests for leave of absence
Amendments to school attendance regulations were updated in September 2013. The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations state that Head Teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. It is important to note that Head teachers can determine the length of the authorized absence, as well as whether absence is authorized at all. The fundamental principles for defining exceptional are rare, significant, or unavoidable, which means the event could not reasonably be scheduled at another time. Circumstances where absences may be regarded as exceptional will vary from school to school and family to family.
There is, however, no legal entitlement for time off in school term time to go on holiday and in the majority of cases holiday will not be authorized. Parents wishing to apply for leave of absence need to fill in an application form in advance before making any travel arrangements. If term-time leave is taken without permission form the school, the absence will be unauthorized and if the number of sessions of absence reaches the thresholds in Central Bedfordshire Council’s Penalty Notice Code of Conduct (10 sessions of absence in 12 school weeks) , parents may be issued with a penalty notice or other legal action in accordance with the code. Taking holidays in term time will affect your child’s education as much as any other absence and we expect parents to help us by not taking children out during school time.
For national guidance refer to ‘School Attendance’ (2016) located at
Request for Leave of Absence Form
A child not arriving at school where the parents haven’t informed the school is considered a safeguarding matter. This is why information about the reason for any absence is always required.
First day absence
If your child is absent you must:
- Contact the school as soon as possible on the first day of absence
- Please collect your child promptly at the end of the school day. Where late collection is persistent and / or significantly late, the school is obliged to share concerns, as necessary, with other agencies including both the Police and Children’s Social Care. If one is available, the school may place a child who has not been collected at the appropriate time into the after-school club and provide the parent / carer with the bill.
If a child is absent the school will:
- Contact parents or carers by text message on the first day of absence if we have not heard from you by 9.30 am because we have a duty to ensure every child’s safety as well as their regular school attendance.
- Invite you in to discuss the situation with our Head teacher and / or Pastoral Leader if absences persist.
- Refer the matter to the Central Bedfordshire Council’s Access and Inclusion Service if absence is unauthorized and doesn’t meet the school’s expectations.
Third day absence
If a child has not been seen and contact has not been established with any of the named parents or carers, after three days of absence the school is required to consider implementing the ‘Child Missing in Education’ procedures as set down by Central Bedfordshire Council. We will make all reasonable enquiries to known friends and wider family members.
Ten days absence
We have a legal duty to report the absence of any child who is absent without an explanation for 10 consecutive days. If the child is not seen and contact has not been established with the named parents or carers then the local authority is notified that the Child is Missing in Education. Staff from the Access and Inclusion Service will visit the last known address and alert key services to locate the child. So help us to help you and your child by making sure we always have an up to date contact number and home address. There will be regular checks on telephone numbers throughout the year.
Continued or ongoing absence
If a child misses 39 or more sessions of absence across the school year, for whatever reason, they are defined as a persistent absentee. Absence for whatever reason disadvantages a child by creating gaps in their learning. Research shows that these gaps at whatever level affects attainment. We monitor all absence thoroughly and all attendance data is shared with the Local Authority and the Department for Education.
A member of the senior leadership team will oversee the school’s work in promoting regular and improved attendance and ensure the attendance policy consistently applied throughout the school. This person will also ensure that attendance is both recorded accurately and analysed. They will ensure that attendance issues are identified at an early stage and that support is put in place to deal with any difficulties. If absence is frequent or continuous, except where a child is clearly unwell, staff will discuss with parents or carers the reasons for the child’s absence and will encourage them to keep these to a minimum. A note or explanation from home does not mean an absence becomes authorized. The decision whether or not to authorize an absence will always rest with the Head Teacher.