Cornwall Education Learning Trust have put in place the following attendance procedures after agreeing a new attendance policy with our Educational Welfare Office. Although we know that most families work really hard to ensure their children are at school every day, on time, average attendance at Lostwithiel Primary School has been below the national average for England. Our school attendance target this year is 96.5%. We have now created a policy and system for when children’s attendance falls below 95%.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 those families who make every effort to support this.
Lostwithiel School will continue to refer unauthorised holidays/absences of 10 sessions (5 school days) or more to Cornwall Council Education Welfare Service. This has been common practice from Easter 2018. This decision was strongly recommended by the Regional Schools Commission, who visited our school in September 2017 and identified absence, particularly term time holidays, as an issue that negatively affects the outcomes of pupils at our school. This has been considered carefully by the school governors, senior leaders and the Cornwall Education Learning Trust.
The Department of Education 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 available from the school office. Letters and emails requesting holiday will not be accepted. A response will be sent to you 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. A Penalty Notice will be considered if a child's attendance is deemed as 'not regular'. This is defined by CELT schools as falling below the threshold of 96%. In the Autumn Term, a child's attendance for the previous academic year will be considered before deciding on a course of action. From January onwards, the decision will be based on attendance data from the current academic year. We will then refer the matter to Cornwall Council who may decide to take legal action against you. They will look at your child’s current attendance and their attendance of the previous academic year. You can find further details on this on our website.
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 EWS. Processes for this can be found on our website.
Celebrating Good Attendance:
We listened to feedback from parents and pupils we will have a whole school half termly target of 96.5%. If the whole school reach this target, all pupils will celebrate together at the end of the term with a special celebration. We will still publish class attendance weekly in the newsletter to raise awareness of class attendance.
Absence Reports and Requests
If you know your child is going to be absent from school you should contact the office and leave a message. If a child is absent without a reason, we will ring or send a dojo message to their named contacts to establish the reason for absence.
Following Department for Education 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 (e.g. for an 11am appointment, we would expect your child to be collected at 10:30 and then returned to school for afternoon lessons).
Formal Steps to Challenge Non-Attendance
When attendance is not good enough we will meet with 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.
Attendance drops below 95%
Letter sent home
Phone call and/or meeting with school to establish causes of absence and how we can support this
Attendance drops below 93%
Letter sent home
No further absence for illness will be authorised, without a doctor’s letter. Meeting with class teacher and headteacher to establish an improving attendance plan
Attendance drops below 90%
Child is classed as persistently absent, which we must report to the local authority. Meeting with head teacher and local authority for an education planning meeting.
100 day monitoring period- if attendance improves we will continue to monitor, if your child misses 10% of sessions during this period we will begin proceedings with EWS to prosecute
No-one wants to fine or prosecute parents (to be clear, any funds raised from this do not come back to the school so there is no financial incentive for schools to take this route) but we know that children need to be at school to achieve well. I hope never to need to take this action at Lostwithiel Primary School. Please come and 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.