Good attendance, and being on time every morning, is very important. When a child is in school, he/she has the best possible chance of learning and making progress. Absence and/or lateness can cause gaps in learning and may mean that a child fails to get the best out of his/her precious time in school.
Good attendance means that children gain maximum benefit from school. This not only results in strong learning and progress - but it can also boosts confidence & social skills too.
By law, all children reach compulsory school age at the beginning of the first term following their fifth birthday. Once a child is of compulsory school age, they must receive suitable full-time education. For most parents / carers, this means registering their child at a school. However, some choose to make other arrangements to provide a suitable, full-time education.
Once your child is registered at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure they attend regularly. If your child fails to do so and there are no exceptional circumstances for an absence, you are at risk of receiving a penalty notice or prosecution in court.
We know that sometimes, of course, absence is unavoidable. But, we will work hard with parents and children to ensure that attendance is as strong as possible.
What parents/carers should do:
- Make sure you child is always on time for school.
- Schedule appointments (dentists, etc) out of school hours if possible.
- Please do not allow your child odd days off for birthdays, shopping, visiting relatives etc. This may sound unheard of to some parents/carers, but the evidence shows that it happens in some schools!
- Please do not take holidays in term-time. Children get 175 non-school days off school to spend time together, including weekends and school holidays.
- Head teachers will rightly prioritise attendance. High attendance will contribute significantly to better education and social well-being outcomes for your child.
- Note that the Department for Education took away the power of schools to grant leave for term-time leave of absence (except in 'exceptional' circumstances). This is defined simply as unavoidable and or exceptional.
- Examples may include (but are not limited to) religious observance the death of a close relative, attendance at a funeral, respite care of a looked after child, a housing crisis which prevents attendance.
- If the absence is unavoidable - for example if your child is ill - please inform the school promptly, on the morning of the first day of absence before 9.00am.
- Unacceptable absence include (but are not limited to)
- Family visits
- Looking after other family member
What the school will do:
- We will monitor all attendance and provide every parent/carer with a half-termly report on your child's attendance.
- If we don't hear from you on your child's first day of absence, we will ring you (but we'd prefer it if you'd call us before 9.00am).
- For families where attendance becomes a concern, we will ask parents/carers to come into school to meet the Headteacher for a discussion to improve your child’s attendance.
- We will fine parents/carers for poor attendance or unauthorised absence.
- We will provide incentives for good attendance - weekly awards, termly certificates. However, the biggest incentive for high attendance is the educational outcome of your child.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are exceptional circumstances?
- Exceptional circumstances are one off events which are unavoidable, examples may include the death of a close relative, attendance at a funeral, respite care of a looked after child, a housing crisis which prevents attendance.
2. I explained my exceptional circumstances to the school yet I was still issued with a PN fine. Can this be reviewed by the Council?
- No. Only the head teacher of a school can authorise any absence under exceptionalcircumstances. Peterborough City Council cannot override any decisions made by the head teacher.
- If a request is sent to the Council then a PN fine will be issued based on the information received.
3. My child’s attendance record is generally good, can I still be issued a fine for short time unauthorised holiday?
- The Peterborough City Council Penalty Notice Code of Conduct allows Penalty Notice fine to be issued for holiday taken for 2 consecutive days or more.
4. Which parent receives the fine?
- Where both parents live together and have day-to-day care and also any absent parent who has frequent contact with the child and is named in the child’s school records may receive a fine for each of their children. This will include parents who allow their child to go on holiday with another family member or friend of the family.
5. Who is fined when parents do not live together?
- The situation can become complicated where parents do not live together, and both wish to remove their child from school at separate times during the same academic year. Where parents are separated, if an absence request is submitted by the parent not involved with the absence, then both parents may be fined.
6. Who is considered to have parental responsibility?
- The definition of a parent is anyone who has parental responsibility for the child and/or any adult with day-to-day care and responsibility. (Section 576 Education Act 1996). This will include stepparents and cohabiters, partners of older pupils if the partner is over 18 years of age and they are living together, other relatives with residency orders.
7. What happens if I am a self-employed worker e.g. a Farmer, is an employee with fixed holiday dates, or is on a holiday rota set by my employer?
- It is advisable for parents to discuss this with their child’s school prior to making any
- arrangements for absence during school term times. Legislation no longer allows Head teachers to authorise 10 days absence from school for a term time holiday. If you are self-employed then you can select when you take your annual leave.
8. We want to go on a trip of a lifetime. Could this be an authorised absence?
- No, this would constitute a family holiday. The Head teachers cannot authorise term time holidays, unless there accept the reason for leave of absence is exceptional.
9. I have a significant number of relatives abroad and may need to spend an extended period in another country. Could this be an authorised absence?
- Head teachers are bound by law to discourage families from taking trips during term time, whatever the reason given.
10. Can I have a payment plan or make part payments?
- No, The Code of Conduct does not allow part payments or payment plans.
11. The primary school authorised the absence but I received a PN fine for my secondary school-aged child. Is there no consistency?
- The Government has given the authority to individual head teachers to make their own decision based on the explanation provided by the parents. What is exceptional has not been defined by the government and therefore individual opinions may differ between head teachers.
- However, the Peterborough City Council does encourage schools to work together but at the same time take into account circumstances of the individual child’s needs.
12. Could an absence to attend a religious observance or festival be an authorised absence?
- Absence that is due to religious observance must be authorised. The day should be marked as authorised where there is an element of worship associated with the religious observance.
- The religious observance days are set apart by the religious body of the individual religion, not determined by the parents.