The Importance of Attending School
At Air Balloon, we want our pupils to enjoy learning, experience success and realise their full potential. Our Attendance Policy reflects this and recognises that regular attendance has a positive effect on the motivation and attainment of pupils
We want our pupils to attend school every day, unless they are really not well enough to. We believe that children who attend school regularly are more likely to feel settled in school, maintain friendships, keep up with their learning and gain the greatest benefit from their education. We want all our pupils to enjoy school, grow up to become emotionally resilient, confident and competent adults who are able to realise their full potential. Regular attendance and punctuality is essential in the workplace and children who are used to attending school on time, and on every occasion unless they are too unwell to attend, will be better prepared for the attendance expectations in the workplace.
All children of compulsory school age (between 5 and 16) are required to receive an education. It is a parent/carer’s responsibility to ensure that their child has an education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude and any special educational needs that they may have.
The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 requires schools to take an attendance register twice a day, once at the start of the morning session and once again during the afternoon session.
The Government expects schools to promote good attendance and reduce absence and act early to address patterns of absence. It expects parents to perform their legal duty by ensuring their children attend school regularly and that all pupils will be punctual.
The Education Act 1996, section 444(1) states that an offence is committed if a parent or guardian fails to “secure regular attendance at school” for their child or children. “If a child of compulsory school age who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at the school, his parent is guilty of an offence”
In April 2017 the Supreme Court clarified the definition of regular attendance to be attendance “in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school”, therefore if an absence is not authorised by the school, the pupil’s attendance is deemed to be irregular.
We will do all we can to encourage our pupils to attend. We will also make the best provision we can for any pupil who needs additional support in school or who is prevented from attending school, due to a medical condition.
Attendance Strategy Team meet termly and look at the attendance of every child in the school. During these meetings, they will identify children whose attendance is a cause for concern – either because it has dropped below a certain level, hasn’t improved since previous term’s review or is a child with historic attendance concerns.
Air Balloon Hill Primary School’s Attendance Target is: 97%
Sometimes pupils can be reluctant to attend school. We encourage parents and pupils to be open and honest with us about the reason for the pupil’s absence. If a child is reluctant to attend, it is never better to cover up their absence or for a parent to give in to pressure to let the child stay at home. This can give the impression to the child that attendance does not matter and can make things worse. As a school, we need to understand the reasons why a pupil is reluctant to attend in order to be able to support pupils and parents in the best way.
When we have concerns about the attendance of a pupil, we will do our best to make the parent/s aware of the concerns about their child’s attendance and give them the opportunity to address this. However, if parents do not make use of the support offered and improve their child’s attendance to an acceptable level, this may result in legal sanctions. Where there are no genuine reasons for the absences, parents may be asked to meet with the class teacher, Pastoral Leader or Family Support Worker to discuss the matter. In some cases, this may result in a formal action plan being produced in the form of an Attendance Contract.
If our school refers a case of poor school attendance to the Local Authority for legal sanctions, we will show that we have warned the parent/s that they are at risk of receiving a Penalty Notice or other legal sanction. This will at least be evidenced via the sending of a warning letter.
Pupils whose attendance falls below this level will be monitored and attendance procedures may begin.
The procedures may include:
Procedures for reporting absence
If your child is absent from school due to illness you must use the Notify Absence option on the ParentMail App or telephone the school using the absence reporting line:
0117 903 0077 option 1
All absences must be notified before 9.30am or it may not be authorised.
If a child is absent for more than one day, the parent should contact the school each day to provide an update on the child’s condition, unless otherwise agreed by the school.
This is important as the school needs to know why a child is not in school if they don’t arrive. A list is kept in the school office of children who walk to school on their own and if they don’t arrive, Parents/Carers are contacted. Parents who wish to add their child to this list should speak to staff in the school office. Children who walk to school are allowed to bring a mobile phone, but these will be collected in for the school day and returned at 3.20.
Failure to follow the absence reporting procedure may result in the absence being recorded as unauthorised. The school will make every effort to contact Parents/Carers to ascertain reasons for absences if no contact is made but it does remain the responsibility of Parents/Carers to inform the school of the reason for any absences.
It is the duty of parents to ensure that children attend school on time. This encourages habits of good timekeeping and lessens any possible classroom disruption.
Our pupils must arrive by 8.45am on each school day.
Our morning register is taken at 8.50 am and will be kept open until 9.20am
A pupil who arrives late but before the register has closed will be marked as late (L) – which counts as present.
A pupil who arrives late after the registers close will be marked as absent. If the pupil is late arriving due to a valid reason such as an unavoidable medical appointment, the absence will be authorised. If the pupil is late for no good reason they will be marked with the unauthorised absence code ‘Late after registers close’ (U).
The school can authorise the following absences provided it is satisfied of the validity of the explanation given
In most cases, absences for illness which are reported by following the school’s absence reporting procedures will be authorised. That is unless the school has a genuine concern about the authenticity of the illness.
The school follows the DfE School Attendance Guidance which states that if the authenticity of the illness is in doubt, the school may ask the parent to provide medical evidence, such as a prescription, appointment card, or other appropriate form of evidence. We will not ask for medical evidence unnecessarily. In some instances, the school may ask the parent to obtain a letter from a GP, or the school may seek parental permission to contact the pupil’s GP directly.
If the school is not satisfied about the authenticity of the illness, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised.
Absences due to illness which have not been reported to the school by the Parent/Carer on the first day of absence may not be authorised and will be recorded as an unauthorised absence. The reporting of absence due to illness remains the responsibility of the Parent/Carer.
School policy is that where a child has been sent home from school or absent due to vomiting or diarrhoea, they must not return to school until 48 hours after the last episode to reduce the risk of infection to other children and adults at the school.
Medical or dental appointments
Parents should try to make appointments outside of school hours wherever possible. Where appointments during school time are unavoidable, the pupil should only be out of school for the minimum amount of time necessary for the appointment. It is not acceptable for a child to miss a whole day’s schooling for an appointment, unless absolutely necessary, in which case the school will need an explanation as to why this is.
Advance notice is required for medical or dental appointments, unless it’s an emergency appointment, and must be supported by providing the school with sight of, or a copy of, the appointment card or letter – only then will the absence be authorised.
Exceptional Circumstances including Family bereavement
Only the Headteacher can approve absences from school classed as Exceptional Circumstances. Examples of such absences may include a family bereavement; visiting a parent/carer in prison; music or ballet exams or part-time attendance as part of reintegration following a prolonged period of absence due to illness.
The definition of an Exceptional Circumstance would be an absence that is rare, significant, unavoidable and short. By unavoidable, we mean an event that could not reasonably be arranged at another time.
Days of religious observance
Our school acknowledges the multi-faith nature of the school community and recognises that on some occasions, religious festivals may fall outside of school holidays or weekends. In accordance with the law, the school will authorise one day’s absence for a day exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which the parent belongs. Should any additional days be taken, these will be recorded in the register as unauthorised absence. If necessary, the school will seek advice from the parents’ religious body, to confirm whether the day is set apart.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Absences
The school will authorise the absence of a Traveller pupil of no fixed abode who is unable to attend school because they are travelling with their parent who is engaged in a trade or business of such a nature as to require him to travel from place to place. This is subject to certain limits, depending on the child’s age and number of sessions absent. The school will discuss cases individually with Traveller parents as necessary.
Children from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities whose families do not travel for occupational purposes are expected to register at school and attend as normal. They are subject to the same rules as other children in terms of the requirement to attend school regularly.
Unauthorised Absences – including Term-time Holidays
The law does not grant parents the automatic right to take their child out of school during term time.
Only exceptional circumstances warrant an authorised leave of absence. The school will consider each application individually, taking into account the specific facts and circumstances and relevant background context behind the request. The request must be made by the parent with whom the child normally lives, and permission must be sought in advance
Parents should complete a Leave of Absence Request form which is available from the school). The request should be submitted as soon as it is anticipated; and wherever possible, at least four weeks before the absence. Although such absence may be unauthorised, it is better that we know your child is safe, rather than missing. Please be aware that you may be required to provide us with additional evidence in order to support your request. If we have any concerns about possible safeguarding risks such as risk of FGM or Forced Marriage, we will follow the necessary protocols. (Please see our school’s Safeguarding Policy for more information.)
Unauthorised absence is where a school is not satisfied with the reasons given for the absence or where a pupil is absent from school without the permission of the school – including for a term-time holiday. Whilst parents can provide explanations for absences, it is the school’s decision whether to authorise the absence or not. Unauthorised absences may result in Legal Sanctions.
School cannot accept absences for unsatisfactory reasons and these will also be recorded as unauthorised; these may include absences for reasons such as:
Absences from school for the purposes of a term-time holiday will not be authorised. Term-times are for education – children and families have 175 days off school every year to spend time together, including weekends and school holidays.
The Headteacher will not normally consider any of the reasons below as an Exceptional Circumstance and any requests for a Leave of Absence for these reasons will not normally be authorised and may result in Penalty Notices being issued to parents/carers:
Please note that this list is not exhaustive
Penalty Notices and Prosecutions
Parents have a legal responsibility to ensure that their child attends school on a regular basis. It is a criminal offence under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 to fail to secure regular attendance of a registered pupil at the school.
Unauthorised absence from school can result in a number of different outcomes for parents and children. Each case is considered individually.
Under section 444 of the Education Act 1996, if a child of compulsory school age, who is a registered pupil at a school, fails to attend regularly at the school his/her parent(s) are guilty of an offence. Parents with more than one school aged child need to be aware that each child’s irregular attendance is dealt with as a separate matter.
Penalty Notices are intended as a sanction for low level offences and a tool to support improved school attendance. They are an alternative to prosecution, and may not be issued if prosecution is considered to be a more appropriate response to a pupil’s irregular attendance.
A pupil’s irregular attendance (which includes unauthorised absence from school) could result in one of the following:
Prosecution could lead to fines up to £2500 and /or 3 months’ imprisonment. (See link to the DfE’s statutory guidance on ‘School attendance parental responsibility measures’ and Bristol City Council’s Penalty Notice Code of Conduct, available here: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/schools-learning-early-years/education-welfare or ask the school for printed copies.)
For more information on Penalty Notices, please click here: PN leaflet updated 2018
Penalty Notices and prosecution proceedings are issued to each parent with responsibility for the child and are issued for each child with irregular attendance. For example, in the case of Penalty Notices, if two siblings had irregular school attendance, and there were two parents with responsibility for the children, four Penalty Notices would be issued. Penalty Notices cannot be paid in instalments.
For more information about attendance at Air Balloon, please read our full school Attendance Policy (Attendance Policy and Procedures – October 2019) and read the information leaflets we have produced:
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