The Importance of Attending School
The school considers that regular school attendance is essential if children are to take full advantage of the educational opportunities available to them. Irregular attendance undermines the educational process.
Individual absences are carefully investigated and unjustified absences will not be tolerated. Lateness is also considered to be not only disruptive to the child’s continuity of learning but also to that of others. Registered pupils of compulsory school age are required by law to be in school.
Air Balloon Hill Primary School believes that regular attendance is the key to enabling children to gain the greatest benefit from their education and therefore become emotionally resilient, confident and competent adults who are able to realise their full potential. Missing out on learning through absence and lateness leaves children vulnerable to falling behind and missing out on friendship opportunities. Regular attendance, including punctuality, will enable children to develop into reliable and organised individuals, qualities which are valued in employment.
Explanations for all absences are required. Only the school can approve absence not parents. Schools are not obliged to accept parental explanations where there is reason to doubt the validity of the explanation offered.
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 at the start of 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 ruled in the case of R v Platt  that the definition of the term “regularly” means “in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school”. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the law is now clear that even a single day of missed school, if not in accordance with the school rules, could mean that an offence has been committed.
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%
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 telephone the school before 9.30am on the first day using the absence reporting line: 0117 903 0077 option 1 or by sending a notification via the ParentMail App.
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.
The school can authorise the following absences provided it is satisfied of the validity of the explanation given
In most cases, absences for illness reported following the school’s absence reporting procedures will be authorised unless the school has a valid reason to believe that the illness is not genuine. In these cases, the school reserves the right to record the absence as unauthorised and to request supporting medical evidence for the period of illness. This can be in the form of a medical appointment card or a prescription issued on the day of absence. Only in very rare cases will the school request a letter from a GP.
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. If a child is absent for more than a day, parents do not need to contact the school every day but must inform the school office of the expected return date and keep the school informed at regular intervals during the period of absence.
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
Missing registration due to a medical or dental appointment is counted as an authorised absence; however, Parents/Carers should try to make appointments outside of school hours wherever possible. Where appointments during school time are unavoidable, the child should be absent for as short a period of time as possible.
All absences for medical or dental appointments must be supported by providing the school office with sight of or a copy of the appointment card or letter – only then will be absence be authorised. Failure to provide the school with sight of the appointment card or letter may result in the absence being recorded in the register as unauthorised
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
Air Balloon Hill Primary 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 and this necessitates a consideration of authorised absence for religious observance. The law says that absences for religious observance can be authorised however it can only be the day which is “exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which the parents belong”
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Absences
To help ensure continuity of education for Traveller children it is expected that the child should attend school elsewhere when their family is travelling and be dual registered at that school and the main school. Children whose families do not travel 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 regularly. If it is necessary for a child from a Traveller family to be absent from school because they are travelling for occupational purposes, this must be agreed by the Headteacher in advance and the absence will be appropriately recorded in the register.
School cannot accept absences for unsatisfactory reasons and these will also be recorded as unauthorised; these may include absences for reasons such as:
Please note that this list is not exhaustive.
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 law does not grant parents the automatic right to take their child out of school during term time and the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of R v Platt  asserts that even one day of missed school could be an infraction of the law.
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
A pupil arriving late can seriously disrupt their own and others’ learning. Registers are taken in the classroom at 8.45am
Children arriving after this time will be recorded as late and must report to the School Office. Registers close completely at 9.20am and children arriving after this time will be marked in the register as having an unauthorised absence for the whole session.
Penalty Notices may be issued to parents by Bristol City Council, on behalf of the school, for any unauthorised absences of 8 or more sessions (4 or more days) in any 10 week period, including, but not limited to, absences for term-time holidays, sporadic unauthorised absences or illness where supporting medical evidence has been requested by the school but not supplied by the parents/s. In requesting and issuing Penalty Notices, the school will follow Bristol City Council’s Code of Conduct for Penalty Notices (Bristol Education Penalty Notice Code of Conduct – September 2018.docx)
Penalty Notices are issued to each parent of each child. The amount of a Penalty Notice is £60 per parent, per child if paid within 21 days, rising to £120 if paid between 22 and 28 days. If the Penalty Notice is not paid the parent may be prosecuted for the offence of failing to ensure their child’s regular attendance at school.
For more information on Penalty Notices, please click here: PN leaflet updated 2018
For more information about attendance at Air Balloon, please read our full school Attendance Policy and read the information leaflets we have produced:
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