Attendance and Leave of Absence
At Nanpean School, we are aware of the vital importance that positive school attendance has on a child’s social and academic progress. We know that most families ensure their children are at school every day, and are on time, and therefore average attendance at Nanpean School has improved over the last three years and is slightly above the national average for England, which is 96%. Where, attendance is a concern, we follow our policy, which has been agreed by Governors and is regularly reviewed, and work in conjunction with external agencies to support families with improving attendance, where necessary. We are sharing this with you so that we can ensure the challenging of non-attendance is fair and consistent. Most children have excellent attendance and we want to thank all of those families who make every effort to support this. Our target at Nanpean School is for every child is to have an attendance of above 97% (currently at the end of December 2020 it is 97.02%), which would allow them to have no more than 5 school days absence per academic year. The Government’s National Expectation for attendance of 96% allows for no more than 7 school days absence per academic year. The table below shows the equivalent number of days absence per academic year which is relevant to each percentage (%).
Nanpean School will continue to refer any unauthorised holidays of 10 sessions (5 school days) or more to our Student Welfare Officer (SWO), who will liaise with Cornwall Council Education Welfare Service.
The Department for Education (DFE) no longer allows Headteachers to grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. If you consider that your request for absence is exceptional you will need to complete the request (template form) which is available from the school office. Letters and emails requesting holiday will not be accepted. A response will be sent to you, in letter form, as soon as possible.
If leave is not authorised and you nevertheless withdraw your child from school, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised absence and you will be committing an offence under the Education Act 1996. We will then refer the matter to Cornwall Council who may decide to take legal action against you. The Penalty Notice Officer will consider requests when attendance is or would fall to below 96%. They will look at your child’s current attendance and their attendance of the previous academic year. Following this, a Penalty Notice can be issued under Section 444A and 444B of the Education Act 1996. This carries a fine of £60 if paid within 21 days or £120 if paid after this but within 28 days. Failure to pay the Penalty Notice may result in Court action. Persistent absences not authorised by the school may result in a prosecution in the Magistrates Court, leading to fines up to £2,500 and/or custodial sentences. Please note that a Penalty is issued to each parent for each child taken out of school. Cases of ongoing and entrenched cases of poor attendance are dealt with separately by the school and the Student Welfare Officer (SWO).
We also want to make it absolutely clear that this (Penalty Notices / fines) is not a route that school’s want to follow, but, in order to ensure high attendance, it is something that is occasionally required. Any monies or funds raised from fines do not come to the school, so there is no financial incentive for schools to do this. However, as stated above, we know that children need to have high school attendance to achieve well.
Celebrating Good Attendance
Attendance is celebrated weekly through information on our Newsletter, and a reward for the winning class (who have the highest attendance percentage that week). At the end of each term, attendance certificates are given to individual children who have 100% attendance for the term.
Absence Reports and Requests
If you know your child is going to be absent from school you should contact the office (messaging facility available). If a child is absent without a reason, we will follow our school policy, which includes sending a text message about attendance and following up with a telephone call to named contacts to establish the reason for absence.
Following Department for Education (DFE) guidance, we ask that all medical appointments be made outside of school hours. If this is not possible, please make sure the office have a copy of the appointment letter for your child’s file. We will expect your child to be at school before and after the appointment where possible (e.g. for an 11am appointment, we would expect your child to be collected at around 10:30am and then returned to school for afternoon lessons).
Authorised and Unauthorised Attendance
Some absence, such as those deemed an acceptable reason by the Headteacher, are recorded as authorised. An example of this would include illness, such as sickness.
Some absence, such as those where a reason for the child’s absence hasn’t been communicated to school by the parent(s), or those that are deemed an unacceptable reason by the Headteacher, are recorded as unauthorised. An example of this would include a family holiday.
If absence is authorised by the school (as an acceptable reason for absence is given to the Headteacher), generally there would be no further concerns. Any unauthorised absence is what causes concern at school.
Formal Steps to Challenge Non-Attendance
When attendance is not good enough we contact parents to discuss how it can be improved. If attendance still doesn’t improve, we will take steps to challenge this, which ultimately may include prosecution, issued by Cornwall Council (details given above). Please talk to us if there are reasons why your child is not attending school regularly. It is much better to work with us early on, so that children do not become persistently absent (persistent absence is having an attendance of below 90%).
Policies and further information
Please see the Attendance Policy and Flowchart for further information.