Attending school is important to ensure students are able to make the most of their education in order to reach their full potential. If you raise a child’s attendance you raise their academic chances. As a parent/carer you are legally responsible for ensuring that your child receives a suitable education. Failure to ensure that your child attends school punctually and regularly may lead to legal action being taken against you. This could result in each parent/carer receiving a fine of up to £2,500 for each case or up to 3 months imprisonment. In order to try and avoid this The Colne Community School works with students, parents and other agencies to ensure you carry out your legal responsibility of making sure your child attends school. We do this in partnership with Attendance Solutions Essex Ltd. and Essex County Council. The Government now consider attendance above 95% to be an acceptable level. As a school, we are concerned when student’s attendance drops below 95% and we take steps to address issues of attendance with students and/or parents when attendance begins to fall. This can include the following steps:
- Attendance call:If your child does not arrive at school on time and a parent/carer has not called the school’s Absence Line (01206 303511) to report an absence we will call you to check whether your child did/didn’t leave for school (to ensure they are safe and to prevent truancy) and/or the reason for their absence. Where relevant we may ask you to bring the child in to school. If we are unable to confirm the child’s whereabouts (particularly during prolonged periods of absence) we may contact Social Care or the Police in order to ensure the child is not at risk of harm.
- Home visit:On occasions where we are concerned about a student’s attendance or welfare (or where we are unable to establish contact with parents) we may ask Attendance Solutions Ltd. to carry out a home visit to discuss issues relating to attendance.
- Request for medical evidence:Where students are off school frequently due to sickness or medical conditions you may be asked to provide medical evidence. This could be an appointment card, pharmacy label for prescribed medication (stating the child’s name and date of dispensing) or a letter from a doctor/consultant/paediatrician. Failure to provide medical evidence will result in the absence being recorded unauthorised.
- School Attendance Plan (SAP):If a student is absent from school (either authorised or unauthorised) a student will meet informally with their House Manager (or another member of the team) to discuss their attendance, reasons for their absences, why attending school is important and to agree a support plan to improve their attendance where appropriate.
- School Attendance Meeting (SAM):If no improvement is made following a SAP parent/carer(s) will be asked to attend a ‘SAM’ to discuss their child’s attendance (either authorised or unauthorised), discuss support available to the student or family to address the issues raised and to explain the legal implications if attendance does not improve.
- Warning letter:If there is still no improvement following the SAM a warning letter is sent to parents reminding them of the legal implications if attendance does not improve.
- Penalty Notice and legal action:This will initially be issuing a penalty notice but could potentially result in legal action where the courts may enforce an Education Supervision Order, Attendance Order or Parenting Order (which would include parents attending parenting skills sessions).
Requests for Leave of Absence
The current law does not give any entitlement to parents to take their child out of school during term time. The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 prohibits the Principal granting leave of absence to a pupil except where an application has been made in advance and the Principal considers that there are exceptional circumstances relating to the application.
If you do take your child out of school for this time, the absences will not be authorised and Essex County Council may issue a penalty notice to each parent of £60 for each child to be paid within 21 days. If the penalty is not paid within the time scale the penalty will increase to £120. If the higher penalty is not paid within 28 days, the Local Authority will then institute legal proceedings against you in the magistrate’s court under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 for failing to ensure your child attends school regularly.
The school requires all parents to complete a ‘Leave of Absence’ application form and attach a letter outlining the ‘exceptional circumstances’ for which a leave of absence is being applied. Applications for exceptional holiday leave will be considered by the Principal ‘s delegated representative and the school’s Pastoral Support Officer for Attendance who will advise the applicant via the form whether the leave will be authorised or not. It may be necessary for the Pastoral Support Officer for Attendance to meet with a parent in these circumstances to ascertain the exceptional nature of the application.
Leave of absence for approved sporting activities and other educational opportunities will be considered as normal and should be applied for using the same form.
The Leave of Absence form and accompanying letter is to be handed in to the Attendance Office addressed to Mrs Simon or can be emailed to the schools email address for the attention of Mrs Simon.
Full details of the legal actions and process (including penalty notices) can be found on the Essex County Council website.
Essex County Council – Attending School: https://www.essex.gov.uk/Education-Schools/Schools/Attending-School/Pages/Attending-School.aspx
Essex County Council – Help getting your child to school: https://www.essex.gov.uk/Education-Schools/Schools/Attending-School/Pages/Help-with-getting-your-child-to-go-to-school.aspx
Essex Safeguarding Children Board – Missing/absent children: http://www.escb.co.uk/en-gb/safeguardingtopics/missingchildren.aspx
Coram Children’s Legal Centre: http://www.childrenslegalcentre.com/index.php?page=education_legal_practice