Attendance & Punctuality
Attendance Matters: What zone are you in?
Children can only achieve their full intellectual potential if they arrive at school regularly and on time. The effect of poor attendance and late arrival is apparent in the achievement children as early as the Foundation Stage. Poor attendance disadvantages children.
We aim to ensure that all children attend school regularly and on time to enable them to take full advantage of the educational opportunities available. All children, regardless of their circumstances, are entitled to a full-time education which is suitable to their age, ability, aptitude and any special educational needs they may have.
Every opportunity will be used to convey to pupils and their parents or carers the importance of regular and punctual attendance. For our children to take full advantage of the educational opportunities offered it is vital every child is at school, on time, every day the school is open unless the reason for the absence is unavoidable.
The routines children develop around attendance and punctuality at school are the same as the expectations of any future employer in the world of work. High attainment, confidence with peers and staff and future aspirations depend on good attendance.
Good attendance is important because
- Statistics show a direct link between under-achievement and absence below 96%.
- Regular attenders make better progress, both socially and academically
- Regular attenders find school routines, schoolwork and friendships easier to cope with
- Regular attenders do not miss out on learning experiences and opportunities
- Regular attenders are more successful in transferring between primary school, secondary school, and higher education, employment or training.
Responsibilities of Pupils
- Attend every day unless the reason for absence is unavoidable.
- Arrive in your classroom on time, every day.
Responsibilities of Parents and Carers
- Ensure your child attends school every day unless the reason for absence is unavoidable.
- Ensure your child arrives in their classroom on time, every day.
- In the event of being late, take your child to the main entrance and sign your child into school at the Attendance Office and include a reason for lateness.
- In the event of any absence, inform the school on the first day of absence and every subsequent day of absence by phone (0115 9150466 option 1) or at the attendance office.
- Avoid taking their child out of school for non-urgent medical or dental appointments.
- Provide written/text message medical evidence to support any absence when requested by the school.
- Only request for leave of absence if it is for an exceptional circumstance - ensuring our school procedures are followed.
Punctuality & Lateness
It is important that classes make a prompt and effective start to the school day. Lateness into school causes disruption to that individual's learning and to that of the other pupils in the class. It is of extreme importance therefore that all pupils arrive at school on time. We are unable to take responsibility for children on the school premises before 8:40am which is the time when all doors to classrooms open. It is very important that children do not play on the play equipment before or after school as there is no supervision at these times.
- Classroom doors open at 8.40am. School gates close at 8.55am promptly; children must be in their classroom by 9:00am. If children arrive at school after 8:55am, they must be brought into school via the school office by an adult and sign in. This will be marked as a L on the attendance register (authorised late). If the register has closed (at or after 9:30am) this late will be recorded as a U on the attendance register and will be unauthorised.
- The Attendance Support Worker will ascertain reasons for late arrivals.
- Where a child is arrives late, parents/carers receive a text message to remind them of the importance of good punctuality.
- If a child arrives at school late on two or more occasions during a week, the parents are sent a letter reminding them of the importance of good punctuality. If this is repeated again during the half term, a second letter is sent. If this continues for a third week during the half term, the parent is sent a third letter inviting them to a meeting with the Head teacher.
- If after the meeting has been held, and the lateness continues, this may lead to a referral being made by the school for a Penalty Notice to be issued to both parents for failure to ensure regular attendance.
- Support will be given to families (i.e. home visits/review meetings/free breakfast club places offered) as far as possible within the resources available to the school
- Children identified as persistently late will be given a punctuality chart to monitor their punctuality and this will earn them a reward if improvement is seen.
Absence from School
The school uses contextual safeguarding information to assess the risk level around any absence. Therefore, the school:
- Reserves the right to carry out safe and well checks and home visits as and when appropriate at any point within a period of absence, whether this be authorised, unauthorised, or unexplained, in order to locate, establish, or confirm the whereabouts of the child and assess their safety and wellbeing.
- Reserves the right to phone a parent/carer of a child as and when appropriate at any stage of an absence, whether this be authorised, unauthorised, or unexplained, to speak with a child to establish their safety and wellbeing.
- Reserves the right to engage with professional services including Children & Families social care, Education Welfare or the police if and when appropriate at any stage of a pupil’s absence.
- Reserves the right to not undertake home visits depending on the individual circumstances of a situation.
What must parents/carers do if their child is absent due to:
If a child is absent from school, due to unplanned absence, parents should contact the school on the first day of absence, before 8:30am if possible, on our attendance phone line (0115 9150466. Option 1) and maintain contact with the school throughout the absence following the procedure below:
Each morning, phone the school’s attendance number, 0115 9150466 and press option 1 to speak to one of our attendance team. This phone is staffed from 8:30am - 11:00am. If you are calling outside these times, or no-one is available, then please leave a voicemail message with the following information:
- Full name of your child (please spell if necessary)
- Name of class
- The relationship to the child of the person who is reporting the absence and your name
- Callers must provide the reason for absence or exact nature of their child’s illness. We cannot accept the following reasons for absence: illness, feeling poorly, feeling under the weather or tired. In order to authorise the absence, we need to know exactly what is wrong with your child.
The pupil’s parent/carer must notify school in advance for any planned, term-time absence.
Planned Medical / Dental Appointments
We ask that parents book medical / dental appointments outside of school time. However, if this is not possible, medical, or dental appointments will be marked as authorised if the pupil’s parent/carer notifies the school in advance of the appointment and can provide evidence of the appointment. We ask that parents/carers can provide evidence of the appointment in the form of a booking card or email / text message confirmation in advance of the appointment. Where it is not possible to book an appointment outside of school hours, the pupil should be out of school for the minimum amount of time necessary (e.g., attend school before and after appointment as appropriate)
Applications for ‘Leave of Absence’ in term time
The pupil’s parent/carer must apply for other types of term-time, planned absence as far in advance as possible of the requested absence. Go to Section 9 for more information about applying for term-time, planned absence via an application for a ‘Leave of Absence’.
The Head teacher will only grant a leave of absence to pupils during term time if they consider there to be 'exceptional circumstances'. A leave of absence is granted at the Head Teacher’s discretion. The school considers each application for term-time absence individually, considering the specific facts, circumstances and relevant context behind the request. Only the school, within the context of the law, can authorise a child’s absence. It is a statutory requirement for the Head Teacher to decide whether absence is authorised or unauthorised.
Valid reasons for authorised absence include but are not limited to:
- Illness and medical/dental appointments (see below)
- Religious observance – Southwark Primary School acknowledges the multi-faith nature of British society and recognises that on some occasions, religious festivals may fall outside school holiday periods or weekends. Southwark Primary School follows Nottingham City’s Common Attendance Protocols to determine whether we are able to authorise an absence linked to a religious observance. In these circumstances, parents and carers should request a leave of absence following the procedure below.
- Traveller pupils travelling for occupational purposes – this covers Roma, English and Welsh Gypsies, Irish and Scottish Travellers, Showmen (fairground people) and Circus people, Bargees (occupational boat dwellers) and New Travellers. Absence may be authorised only when a Traveller family is known to be travelling for occupational purposes and has agreed this with the school but it is not known whether the pupil is attending educational provision.
- There are other, infrequent, occasions where absences are permitted and coded as ‘Authorised Circumstances’. This relates to where there is cause for absence due to exceptional circumstances, e.g. serious family illness or bereavement. Parents/carers should communicate with school if there are such circumstances. The Head teacher’s decision is final in such matters.
Authorised absence due to illness
It is a school’s decision whether to accept a reason for a child’s absence and whether to authorise that absence. Parents must provide the exact nature of their child’s illness. We cannot accept broad reasons such as: ‘illness’, ‘poorly’, ‘feeling under the weather’ or ‘tired’. In order to authorise the absence, we need to know exactly what is wrong with your child. In some circumstances we may request further evidence of a child’s illness to allow the absence to be authorised. We reserve the right to seek additional evidence related to the illness if we have any concerns regarding a child’s attendance. In fact, it is good practice to have clear systems in place to escalate any concerns about high levels of absence due to illness, including agreements about accessing addition services in order to provide appropriate support to pupils, particularly for long term illness. We will mark absence due to illness as authorised unless the school has a genuine concern about the authenticity of the illness. If the authenticity of the illness is in doubt, the school may ask the pupil’s parent/carer to provide medical evidence, such as a doctor’s note, prescription, appointment card or other appropriate form of evidence. We will not ask for medical evidence unnecessarily. If the school is not satisfied about the authenticity of the illness, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised and parents/carers will be notified of this.
The types of scenarios when medical evidence may be requested include:
- Attendance is lower than 96%
- There are frequent odd days of absence due to reported illness.
- The same reasons for absence are frequently repeated.
- Where there is a particular medical problems and school may need evidence to seek additional support/provide support.
- When absences occur either side of a school holiday or weekend.
Southwark Primary School follows the Public Health Agency ‘Guidance on infection control in schools and other childcare settings’ which outlines the recommended period to be kept away from nursery/school. Pupils who are absent for a period of time longer than that recommended may have these additional absences unauthorised.
The Head Teacher reserves the right to declare any absence unauthorised if:
- there is no explanation given;
- the explanation is not reasonable for the absence;
- the school has good reason to doubt the explanation given.
In line with the 1996 Education Act, we expect all children on roll to attend school every day, when the school is in session, as long as they are fit and healthy enough to do so.
Examples of unsatisfactory explanations include:
- A child’s/family member’s birthday
- Shopping for uniform
- Closure of a sibling’s school for INSET or other purposes
- “Couldn’t get up”
- Illness where the child is considered well enough to attend school
- Illness of a family member
- Bus not running or car broken down
All absences that are not accounted for will be actioned immediately by our Attendance Support Worker following the procedures below.
Unexplained absence 1 – 3 days
- During Days 1-3 of any pupil absence which is not accounted for (no contact between home-school/no reason provided for absence), the following procedure is followed:
- All absences are investigated by our Attendance Support Worker. If parents/carers have not followed procedures outlined in Section 7.1, to alert school of the reason for a child’s absence, they receive a text message asking for a reason for absence. If there is no response to this text, parents are phoned. If there is no response to the phone call, a voicemail message is left where possible and a Class Dojo message is sent. We contact emergency contacts if we are unable to establish contact with parents/carers. This process is repeated for each day of the absence until the child returns to school or we can establish a reason for absence.
- If we are unable to establish a reason for absence and the absence procedures outlined above have taken place, on the 3rd day of absence, members of the school senior leadership may visit the address of the pupil to check on the pupil’s welfare. If school are unable to establish contact at this visit, a letter is put through the letterbox asking the parent/carer to contact the school regarding the child’s absence.
- If no contact has been made with parents/carers and school is concerned about the safety and wellbeing of a child, the school reserves the right to contact professional services including the police or Children and Families Social Care.
Unexplained absence 3 days +
- The Attendance Support Worker will continue to follow the procedures outlined above to establish a reason for absence.
- School will continue to liaise with relevant professional services as and when appropriate at any stage of the absence.
- School will continue to undertake home visits / safe and well visits as and when appropriate, in conjunction with relevant professional services.
- After 5 days of absence from school, if no satisfactory reason is established, the absence will remain unauthorised on the school register and a referral to Nottingham City Education Welfare Service will be made who may consider legal action against you.
- After 5 days absence from school with no contact, or, if a home visit is under taken and no one is home, school may class this as unauthorised leave and Education Welfare service will be notified. This may result in a penalty noticed being issued.
Unexplained absence for 10 school days
- If a child is missing for ten school days, then the child will be referred to Education Welfare as a child missing education (CME). School will communicate with the EWS prior to a referral to ensure that the children are classed as CME. This may involve additional home visits.
- If the missing child does not return to the school for a further ten days (20 school days in total) and there has been no contact from the parents/carers, then the child’s place may be removed from the register. This decision will be made by the Head Teacher after an individual assessment of risk has been made. School will notify the local authority if a pupil is removed from the school register.
Safeguarding & Children Missing Education
All staff are aware that children going missing, particularly repeatedly, can act as a vital warning sign of a range of safeguarding possibilities. This may include abuse and neglect, which may include sexual abuse or exploitation and can also be a sign of child criminal exploitation including involvement in county lines. It may indicate mental health problems, risk of substance abuse, risk of travelling to conflict zones, risk of female genital mutilation, ‘honour’-based abuse or risk of forced marriage. Early intervention is necessary to identify the existence of any underlying safeguarding risk and to help prevent the risks of a child going missing in future. Staff should be aware of their school’s or college’s unauthorised absence and children missing from education procedures. The DSL, in conjunction with the attendance team, will monitor unauthorised absence and take appropriate action including notifying the local authority, particularly where children go missing on repeated occasions and/or are missing for periods during the school day. At least two different contact numbers will be held on file for a child which can be accessed and used by the school in case of an absence/emergency. Should a child be linked to outside agencies and have a Child Protection Plan the Social Worker will be informed immediately should absence occur.
If a child is absent from school and we have had no contact with them after efforts have been made to determine their whereabouts and we are unable to locate them and we believe that the family may have moved away leaving no contact details to find them, after 10 school days, we will alert Nottingham City CME immediately.
Leave of Absence in Term Time
We ask all parents to be mindful that taking a pupil on leave during term time interrupts teaching and learning and will disrupt a child’s educational progress.
The Government issued new regulations in September 2013 regarding Leave of Absence (The Education (Pupil Regulations) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended by Education (Pupil Regulations) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013.)
- Any application for leave must establish that there are ‘exceptional circumstances’ in relation to the application and this will be at the discretion of the Head Teacher.
- The Head Teacher will determine how many school days a child may be absent from school if the leave is granted.
- Parents have no entitlement to take their child on holiday during term time.
- If an absence is unauthorised, school will not provide the child with work to complete.
- Applications for Leave of Absence must be made in advance and failure to do so will result in the absence being unauthorised.
- The school can only consider applications for Leave of Absence which are made by the resident parent.
- Applications for Leave of Absence which are made in advance and are refused will result in the absence being unauthorised which may result in legal action against the parent, by Fixed Penalty Notice, if the child is absent from school during that period
Leave of Absence Procedures
Parent/carers must follow school procedures when requesting leave of absence for their child:
- Requests should be made at least 4 school weeks in advance of the proposed absence, by completing a ‘Leave of Absence’ request form, explaining why the leave is essential and the reasons why it needs to take place during term time. This form is available from the Attendance Support Worker in the school office. This can also be found on the school website. If school is aware of any language difficulties that may preclude a request form being completed appropriate support will be offered to the parent/carer.
- If the leave of absence is for a holiday, school will require supporting documentation e.g. written travel documentation and accommodation details before a ‘leave of absence’ request can be considered. Please note that parents/carers do not have an entitlement to take their child on holiday during term time.
- Once the decision has been made by the school, it cannot be reversed and there is no appeals procedure. The Head Teacher’s decision is final.
- You will receive written confirmation confirming whether the leave of absence request has been granted and therefore marked as authorised absence or whether the leave of absence request has been declined and therefore any absence linked to this will be unauthorised.
- If a parent believes that the reason for their child’s unauthorised leave of absence from school in term time was not properly understood and that it should have been considered as exceptional by the head teacher then the parent/carer should contact the school to discuss the matter.
- If parents/carers take their children on any unauthorised holiday, or unauthorised leave, school reserves the right to refuse to authorise any further absences for the remainder of the year without medical evidence and the pupil’s attendance will be subject to additional monitoring.
What are ‘Exceptional Circumstances?’
Exceptional circumstances are defined as being unique and significant emotional, educational or spiritual value to the child which outweighs the loss of teaching time.
Examples of leave of absence requests which do not count as exceptional circumstances (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Availability of cheaper holidays
- Availability of desired accommodation
- Poor weather experienced in school holidays
- Overlap with beginning or end of term
- Booked the wrong dates by mistake or without checking
- Booked by another family member
- Attending a family wedding
- Family birthdays
- Availability of time off work
- Day trips
- Holidays taken without following school procedure
- Family time
Southwark Primary School can refer to Nottingham City Council Education Welfare Service, who may issue penalty notices to parents for the unauthorised absence of their child from the school, where the child is of compulsory school age. The decision on whether or not to refer to Nottingham City Council Education Welfare Service, who may issue a penalty notice, ultimately rests with the head teacher.
Criteria for service from Nottingham City Council Education Welfare Service to start proceedings for unauthorised school absence:
Any pupil with 10 sessions of unauthorised absence over a rolling 10-week period (10%) unauthorised absence. This can include lateness after the register has closed.
Local Authority Penalty Notices
Amendments to 2007 Penalty Notice regulations reduces the timescales for paying a penalty notice. Please note that penalty notices are issued per parent per child. Parents must pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days. The payment must be made directly to the local authority. If the penalty notice remains unpaid then the Local Authority may instigate legal proceedings against you under section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996. If found guilty of this offence you could be fined up to £1000.
- There is no right of appeal against an Education Penalty Notice once it has been issued correctly and in line with the Nottingham City Code of Conduct. The local authority cannot overturn a head teacher’s decision to un-authorise a pupil’s absence from school during term time.
- Penalty Notice fines can only be withdrawn in specific circumstances as set out within the national regulations and the local code of conduct.
- Instances where parents/carers don’t inform school of reason for absence, or give a false reason, can still result in a penalty notice being issued if school have reasonable grounds to believe the absence wasn’t due to illness/exceptional circumstances.
- Penalty Notices are issued for each parent for each child to whom persistent absence applies.
Support for Pupils with SEND or Medical Conditions with Poor Attendance
- School maintains the same ambition for pupils with medical conditions and SEND and we work with pupils and parents to maximise attendance.
- We join up pastoral support alongside support for attendance and where required put in place additional support and adjustments such as an individual Health Care Plan and if applicable ensuring the provision outlined within the child’s EHCP is assessed.
- We consider additional support from wider services and external partners, making timely referrals and we regularly monitor data for such groups.
Support for Pupils with a Social Worker
- School will inform a pupil’s social worker if there are any unexplained absences and if their name is to be deleted from the register.
Other Approaches to Prevention of Poor Attendance
- The school will give high profile to awards for attendance and punctuality in weekly assemblies every Friday. The school will value good punctuality and attendance by an award to the class with the lowest number of late marks and highest attendance each week, across the whole school.
- The school will give termly certificates to all children achieving 100% attendance with no late arrivals recorded. Every child’s name will be entered into a draw for the chance to win prizes.
- The children with the most improved attendance over the term with be entered into the draw for the chance to win prizes.
- Any children achieving 100% attendance for the year will have the chance to win a prize at the end of the year
- School will implement termly prizes for children with the most improved attendance as well as 100% attenders. These will include, but not limited to, cinema evenings and parties.
- During the Autumn and Spring Attendance drives (a two-week period identified as having lower attendance across school) children who achieve 100% attendance with no lates will be rewarded with prizes.
- The attendance and punctuality school displays, will be used to celebrate achievements and communicate important information to parents and children at home.
For further information from Nottingham City Local Authority on Elective Home Education, please visit:
For further advice and guidance on school attendance, please visit:
For all other information about attendance & punctuality, please read our Attendance & Punctuality Policy which is attached below.