Attendance

Improving attendance is everyone’s business.

The barriers to accessing education are wide and complex, both within and beyond the school gates and are often specific to individual pupils and families. Good attendance begins with school being somewhere pupils want to be and therefore the foundation of securing good attendance is that our school is a calm, orderly, safe and a supportive environment, where all pupils are keen and ready to learn.

Some pupils find it harder than others to attend school and therefore, at all stages of improving attendance, we aim to work in partnership with pupils and parents collaboratively, to remove any barriers to attendance by building strong and trusting relationships and working together to put the right support in place.

Securing good attendance cannot therefore be seen in isolation, and effective practices for improvement will involve close interaction with our efforts on curriculum, behaviour, bullying, special educational needs support, pastoral, mental health, wellbeing, and effective use of resources, including pupil premium.

Our aim is to work with you as a family to ensure your child has the best opportunities available to them at our school. We understand that sometimes it is difficult to overcome barriers, but by working together, we want to overcome them and keep your child in school. When these barriers arise, please talk to us, so that we can help.

Contact the Attendance Officer and Head of Year at: info@regentspark.southampton.sch.uk

Supporting your child’s school attendance

Good school attendance habits are best started early. Children learn from those around them and you as parents/carers set the standards and expectations for your child. Showing your child the importance of attending school every day not only helps your child to settle quickly when starting school, but also helps them to keep and maintain friendships and enjoy the school environment.

Be organised, have a plan, be consistent and involve your child.

You should:

  • Create good routines for mornings at home so that your child can arrive punctually and they are properly equipped. This will also mean your mornings can start calmly too
  • Make time to encourage and show interest. Chat to them about the things they have learnt, what friends they have made and even what they had for lunch! Remember children can be tired when coming out of school, so a short chat over a snack or later that evening may produce a better result than a long list of questions
  • Read all school communications.
  • Attend school open evenings and functions
  • Check your child understands the homework and that it has been completed. Support them in completing homework by creating a calm space for them to work in and set specific times during the week when homework should be done
  • Avoid absence from school wherever possible – try to make doctors and dental appointments out of school hours. Absence means your child will miss out on the academic studies and will also learn that education is not the main priority within the family. This can have a lifelong effect

Take the time to listen to your child, share any concerns you or your child may have with the appropriate member of school staff and seek support at the very earliest opportunity.

Your responsibilities as a parent

By law, all children of compulsory school age must receive a suitable full-time education. As a parent, you have a legal responsibility to make sure this happens – either by registering your child at a school or by making other arrangements to give them a suitable, full-time education. Once your child is registered at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure they attend regularly. This means your child should not have sessions of unauthorised absence.

Section 576 of the Education Act 1996 defines parent as:

All natural parents, whether they are married or not

Any person who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility for a child or young person

Any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person

Having care of a child or young person means that a person with whom the child lives and who looks after the child, irrespective of what their relationship is with the child, is considered to be a parent in education law.

Recording your child’s attendance

Schools must take an attendance register twice a day, which is a legal document that is kept for five years. Any absences will be recorded with a specific code depending on the type of absence. Absences fall into two main categories:

  • Authorised – those which schools can give you permission for
  • Unauthorised – those which they will not

Examples of absences which the school is unlikely to authorise can include:

  • Sickness of a parent, or other family member
  • Inadequate clothing for school
  • Child being used as a carer
  • Problems with transport
  • Non-urgent medical treatment
  • School refusal or truancy
  • Days off for birthdays, shopping trips
  • Family holiday since new regulations came in September 2013

If your child needs a leave of absence, you must ask for permission in advance. The Headteacher can only approve the absence if viewe to be exceptional reasons. The Headteacher also decides on the number of days to authorise or unauthorise. You can access a leave of absence form on this page.

What do I do if my child is unwell?

As a parent/carer you should notify the school every day your child is unable to attend due to illness. Generally this is done by telephone and we have an answerphone facility specifically for this purpose.

We can request that medical evidence is provided, such as a prescription or an appointment card. A note from a doctor may not be necessary. We can record the absence as unauthorised if we are not satisfied with the illness.

You should let the school know:

  • The nature of the illness (although you may wish to talk confidentially about this)
  • Whether your child has seen their GP, or whether an appointment has been made for some other specialist service
  • How long you expect your child to be absent from school
  • The prognosis for the child’s recovery

For absences that are expected to last up to 15 school days and that are not part of a pattern of a recurring illness, the parents/carers should discuss with the school, whether they are willing to organise for work and homework to be set, as soon as the child is able to cope with it. The school should also agree with you, how completed work will be collected, marked and returned.

Longer absence through illness, injury or medical condition

If absence is long-term or repeated, we may request proof that your child is genuinely unwell and unable to attend school, as this is a key part of their safeguarding duties. Please keep copies of any appointment letters or medical reports.

If your child:

  • Has a long term or chronic condition, and is expected to be absent from school for a longer period
  • Has intermittent attendance due to an illness (such as epilepsy or sickle cell anaemia)
  • Is going to be absent from school for a period of therapy or surgery

We may want to draw up a support plan with you, and consider whether to refer your child to our specialist services.

Education for pupils who are unable to attend school because of medical needs can be provided for in the following ways:

NHS Guidance – Is my child too ill for school?

Why is high attendance important to my child’s education?

As a parent/carer you want the best for your children. Having a good education is an important factor in opening up more opportunities in adult life. Did you know that:

  • A child who is absent a day of school per week misses an equivalent of two years of their school life
  • 90% of young people with absence rates below 85% fail to achieve five or more good grades of GCSE and around one third achieve no GCSEs at all
  • Poor examination results limit young people’s options and poor attendance suggests to colleges and employers that these students are unreliable
  • Poor school attendance is also closely associated with crime a quarter of school age offenders have truanted repeatedly

GCSEs may seem a long way off for you and your child, but all absence at any stage leads to gaps in your child’s learning. This in turn can:

  • Mean that they fall behind in work
  • Affect their motivation
  • Affect their enjoyment of learning
  • Lead to poor behaviour
  • Affect their desire to attend school regularly affect their confidence in school
  • Mean they miss out on the social life of school and extra curricular opportunities and experiences
  • Affect their ability to have or keep friendships

Family holidays and school holidays

Children have 13 weeks annual holiday from school and school holiday dates are published well in advance online. As such, all parents/carers are expected wherever possible to plan and take their family holidays at this time, so as not to disrupt their children’s education. Education law states that parents do not have a right to take their child out of school for a holiday during term time. Only in exceptional circumstances may a Headteacher grant permission for leave; and it is the Headteacher’s decision on whether the absence is exceptional and how many days to approve.

Parents/carers who take their child out of school, without the absence being agreed and authorised by written permission from the school, can be issued with a penalty fine.

Attendance rewards

We value attendance at school and reward this frequently throughout the year. By attending school, pupils have the best chance of achieving success in their GCSE exams and therefore, going on to have improved prospects as they become adults. This is the biggest reward any pupil should want.

However, we realise that pupils sometimes need short term rewards for their efforts, in order to motivate them. We have numerous ways of doing this, some of which are included below:

  • Department rewards
  • Students of the week
  • Raffle tickets for hot chocolate
  • Recognition in assemblies
  • Certificate presentations
  • Access to the Hot 50 reward
  • Head of Year rewards
  • Bounceback rewards
  • Personal rewards for those who struggle with attending

Parent’s penalty notice guide

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