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Trust-wide policy. Adopted: September 2018.

1.    Introduction

1.1.    One of the most important factors in ensuring that pupils achieve their full potential is regular attendance and punctuality at school and in lessons. It is important, therefore, to have a policy which makes our expectations clear to pupils, parents/carers and staff.

2.    Aims    

2.1.    The aims of this policy are:

2.1.1.    To encourage 100% attendance and punctuality;

2.1.2.    To ensure all those associated with the academies understand the expectations in relation to attendance and punctuality;

2.1.3.    To produce regular information about class and individual attendance and punctuality which will enable the academies to monitor trends and patterns so that appropriate measures can be taken to improve attendance and punctuality and thus academic performance.

3.    Links with academy aims

3.1.    Good attendance and punctuality will make it easier to achieve all of the strategic aims. However, in particular it will help to:

3.1.1.    Ensure that all pupils gain the highest examination results of which they are capable and to foster a love of learning that will continue throughout life;

3.1.2.    Ensure that all pupils maintain high standards of discipline and responsibility;

3.1.3.    Actively involve parents/carers in all aspects of their child's education at the academy;

3.1.4.    Ensure that all pupils are prepared for the varied and demanding roles they will play in adult life;

3.1.5.    Develop self-discipline.

4.    Guidelines

4.1.    The academy’s expectations are that:

4.2.    Parents/carers should:

4.2.1.    Ensure that their children attend school punctually every day unless they are ill and contact the academy on the first day of absence;

4.2.2.    Contact the academy if there are problems which need to be discussed;

4.2.3.    Send a note explaining absences the day their child returns to school stating the dates their child was absent;

4.2.4.    Avoid requests for appointments and holidays during the academy term.

4.3.    Pupils should:

4.3.1.    Aim for an attendance and punctuality award over the course of an academic year;

4.3.2.    Bring in a note explaining all absences on the day of return stating the dates of absence;

4.3.3.    Discuss personal attendance or punctuality difficulties with their tutor.

4.4.    The attendance officer should:

4.4.1.    Ensure any absence notes are received from parents/carers are recorded accurately and filed;

4.4.2.    Ensure letters are sent to parents regarding any unexplained absences for their child;

4.4.3.    Refer absence matters and concerns to the relevant college assistant principal;

4.4.4.    Track attendance issuing, where necessary, letters to parents when attendance drops below 95% and 93%.

4.5.    Teachers and other staff should:

4.5.1.    Lead by example by being punctual and by planning interesting and stimulating lessons which motivate all their pupils;

4.5.2.    Mark their electronic class register at the start of every lesson;

4.5.3.    Check absences against absentees and report any discrepancies to the appropriate person;

4.5.4.    Record the names of those who arrive late through the academy’s information management system so that further action can be taken;

4.5.5.    Adopt a welcoming and encouraging approach to children returning from absence with ideas for catching up missed work;

4.5.6.    Liaise with raising achievement managers in providing catch-up work when necessary;

4.5.7.    Discuss weekly attendance and make a note in student planners when students reach 97%.

5.    In the case of absence

5.1.    Academies operates a first day text message alert system. The attendance officer contacts home to check that the absence is both known to parents/carers and is genuine and unavoidable.

6.    In the case of lateness

6.1.    Pupils who are late for the start of the day (before registers close) will be recorded as ‘Late’. If later than the close of registers pupils must report to the appropriate person upon arrival and so that their parents /carers are not contacted unnecessarily.

6.2.    Pupils who are found to be absent during regular internal truancy checks are also notified to their parents as with first day call.

6.3.    The first day call procedure means that the following procedures should all be observed in order to avoid unnecessary stress to parents:

6.3.1.    Pupils on trips/visits must be notified to the attendance officer

6.3.2.    Staff removing pupils from lessons must notify the attendance officer

6.3.3.    Set lists must not be changed outside the normal review cycle nor without authorisation.

6.3.4.    Pupils must not leave school premises without signing out.

7.    Requests for pupil leave of absence during term time

7.1.    The Education Act (1996) requires parents ensure a child attends school regularly. There is however a discretionary power to allow leave of absence in exceptional circumstances during term time. This is not an entitlement and is purely at the discretion of the academy principal.

7.2.    Before booking a holiday or requesting a leave of absence for your child, you should consider very seriously how the absence will affect your child’s education. If you still feel that you need to make a leave of absence request to the academy, you will need to apply in writing.

7.3.    All requests for pupil leave of absence from school during term time will be considered but it is extremely unlikely that requests purely for holiday purposes will be granted. Where exceptional circumstances exist it is possible that a leave of absence may be authorised. However each case will be carefully considered on an individual basis.

8.    Procedures for persistent absenteeism

8.1.    Pupils who are identified as on track to be persistent absentees (OTPA) will have an action plan that will be agreed in liaison with a senior staff member, parents, and pupil.

8.2.    Persistent absence (PA) cases are also automatically made known to the attendance officer. Pupils with absence patterns or extended absences will be referred to attendance panel.

9.    School attendance panels (fast track to prosecution) and authorised absence school attendance panels

9.1.    Academies operate both school attendance panels (fast track to prosecution) and authorised absence school attendance panels when students meet the thresholds set by the Government and relevant County Council. In each case students and their parent/carers will be invited to attend:

9.1.1.    An attendance concerns meeting

9.1.2.    An initial school attendance panel meeting

9.1.3.    A school attendance panel final review meeting

9.1.4.    And, in cases where parents/carers have failed to attend any of the previous meetings, a PACE meeting will be scheduled and conducted before further action takes place.

9.2.    All parties that attend any of the above meetings will be provided with minutes, copies of any action plans that are agreed and information about how to access support to ensure that the child attends school regularly.

10.    Fixed-penalty notices (FPNs)

10.1.    As part of the wider strategy across the country to address poor attendance, schools and academies can refer cases to the magistrates court for Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) to be issued on their behalf. The Academy writes to all parents annually to inform them of this legal process and outline the procedure and consequences that will apply during that academic year. In all attendance matters that could result in the intervention of the local authority or the use of the legal system our Academies have adopted the practices and procedures laid down by relevant County Councils. These procedures and practices are regularly reviewed and updated as and when needed based on new targets and thresholds laid down at both governmental and county level.

11.    Monitoring, evaluation and review

11.1.    The governing body will review this policy at least every three years and assess its implementation and effectiveness.

12.    Categorisation of absence

12.1.    Any pupil who is on roll but not present in the school must be recorded within one of the following categories:

12.1.1.    Unauthorised absence

12.1.2.    Authorised absence

12.1.3.    Approved educational activity

13.    Unauthorised absence

13.1.    This is for those pupils where no reason has been provided, or whose absence is deemed to be without valid reason.

14.    Authorised absence

14.1.    This is for those pupils who are away from school for a reason that is deemed to be valid under the Education Act 1996.

15.    Approved educational activity

15.1.    This covers supervised activities undertaken off site but with the approval of the school. Pupils recorded in this category are deemed to be present for attendance returns purposes. These would include:

15.1.1.    Work experience placements

15.1.2.    Field trips and educational visits

15.1.3.    Sporting activities

15.1.4.    Link courses or approved education off site

15.1.5.    Most types of dual registration

16.    Fixed-penalty notices

16.1.    Subsection (1) of section 23 of the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 adds two new subsections (444A and 444B) to section 444 of the Education Act 1996. These new sections introduce penalty notices as an alternative to prosecution and enable parents to discharge potential liability for conviction for that offence by paying a penalty. The offence of irregular attendance has not changed.

16.2.    Head teachers may apply to the local authority to issue a penalty notice and may authorise their staff to do so. Head teachers must first gain the agreement of their governing body. 

16.3.    The key consideration in deciding whether to issue a penalty notice will be if it can be effective in helping the pupil who is truanting back into school.

16.4.    At the outset of poor attendance the parent should be informed of the actions that may be taken. This will be followed by a fixed-penalty notice. The usual response to a first offence should be a warning rather than a penalty.

16.5.    Local authorities are responsible for the administration of the scheme and may make operational amendments as they see fit.

16.6.    The pupil’s absence must be unauthorised and the circumstances of the absence must comply with the Code of Conduct.

16.7.    The amount of the penalty to be paid shall be:

16.7.1.    £60 per child, per parent if paid within 21 days of the receipt of the notice; increasing to

16.7.2.    £120 per child, per parent if paid within 28 days

16.8.    The local authority retains the revenue from the penalties in order to finance the scheme and any subsequent prosecutions. Penalty notices can only be withdrawn under limited circumstances. The usual response to the non-payment of a notice will be a prosecution under section 444 of the Education Act 1996.

17.    School attendance panel

17.1.    School attendance panels are called when a child has a pattern of absence from school; their attendance is 90% or below and they have either a period of 10 or more consecutive unauthorised sessions or 10% unauthorised absence (6 sessions) over a six week period This is in the context of the Fast Track to Attendance Framework which sets its aims and objectives as:

17.1.1.    To ensure that intervention strategies are put into place early to tackle school attendance problems

17.1.2.    To ensure that parents who fail to cooperate or are unwilling to work with the school/local education authority are identified sooner and action is taken to make sure that they take responsibility for their child's school attendance.

17.2.    The purpose of the school attendance panel is for the parents and child to meet with teachers, and attendance improvement officers to identify the reasons for absence and to formulate an action plan to promote working together to improve attendance and meet the attendance targets which will be set for the child.

17.3.    A review panel will be held in a further six weeks to review the progress of the action plan and whether the attendance targets have been met.

17.4.    While it is the intention of Academies and the Children's Services attendance team that the school attendance panel will be used as a means of improving the school attendance of individual children, a court date will have been identified at the outset and summons will be issued if attendance targets are not met.

18.    School attendance review panel

18.1.    School attendance review panels take place six weeks after a school attendance panel has met to set attendance targets for a specific child and agreed an action plan to enable the targets to be met.

18.2.    The purpose of a school attendance review panel is to review the progress of the action plan towards meeting the attendance targets and make decisions as to any further action needed.

18.3.    If attendance targets are met the review panel can recommend that no further action is required and the case be closed.

18.4.    If attendance targets are not met the review panel will consider recommending:

18.4.1.    Prosecution of the parents

18.4.2.    Consultation with a view to an application for an Educational Supervision Order

18.4.3.    A different strategy to improve attendance for instance a Positive Parenting Group

18.4.4.    A further action plan will be agreed.

18.5.    While it is the intention of the academies and the Children's Services attendance team that the school attendance review panel will be used as a means of improving the school attendance of individual children, if the recommendation of the review panel is for prosecution of the parents then this will be put to the County Council Attendance Prosecution Panel for consideration.

19.    Monitoring, evaluation and review

19.1.    This policy will be reviewed every three years to assess its implementation and effectiveness. The policy will be promoted and implemented throughout the Trust.

19.2.    The chief operating officer will report on the effectiveness of the policy to the governing body and attendance outcomes will also be presented to the Trust Board.