Woodlands School

Statement of Intent

Woodlands School believes that in order to facilitate teaching and learning, good attendance is essential. Students cannot achieve their full potential if they do not regularly attend school.

We are committed to:

  • Ensuring parents follow the framework set in section 7 of the Education Act 1996, which states that the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause them to receive efficient full-time education suitable to their age, ability and aptitude, and to any SEND they may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
  • Promoting and modelling good attendance behaviour.
  • Ensuring equality and fairness of treatment for all.
  • Implementing our policies in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.
  • Early intervention and working with other agencies to ensure the health and safety of our students.
  • Rewarding regular attendance.

Roles and responsibilities

The governing board has overall responsibility for:

  • Monitoring the implementation of this policy and all relevant procedures across the school.
  • Ensuring that this policy, as written, does not discriminate on any grounds, including, but not limited to, ethnicity/national origin, culture, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation.
  • Handling complaints regarding this policy as outlined in the school’s Complaints Procedures Policy.
  • Having regard to ‘Keeping children safe in education’ when making arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
  • Ensuring there is a Children Missing Education Policy in place and that this is regularly reviewed and updated.

The headteacher is responsible for:

  • The day-to-day implementation and management of this policy and all relevant procedures across the school.
  • Ensuring all parents are aware of the school’s attendance expectations and procedures.
  • Ensuring that every student has access to full-time education and will act as early as possible to address patterns of absence.

Staff are responsible for:

  • Following this policy and ensuring students do so too.
  • Ensuring this policy is implemented fairly and consistently.
  • Modelling good attendance behaviour.
  • Using their professional judgement and knowledge of individual students to inform decisions as to whether any welfare concerns should be escalated.
  • Where designated, taking the attendance register at the relevant times during the school day.

The Pupil Welfare Officer is responsible for informing the LA of any student being deleted from the admission and attendance registers if they:

  • Are being educated from home.
  • No longer live within a reasonable distance of the registered school.
  • Have an authorised medical note.
  • Are in custody for a period of more than four months and the proprietor does not reasonably believe they will be returning.
  • Have been permanently excluded.

Parents are responsible for:

  • Providing accurate and up-to-date contact details.
  • Providing the school with more than one emergency contact number.
  • Updating the school if their details change.
  • The attendance of their children at school.
  • Promoting good attendance with their children.

Definitions

The following definitions apply for the purposes of this policy:

Absence:

  • Arrival at school after the register has closed
  • Not attending school for any reason

Authorised absence:

  • An absence for sickness for which the school has granted leave
  • Medical or dental appointments which unavoidably fall during school time, for which the school has granted leave
  • Religious or cultural observances for which the school has granted leave
  • An absence due to a family emergency

Unauthorised absence:

  • Parents keeping children off school unnecessarily or without reason
  • Absences which have never been properly explained
  • Arrival at school after the register has closed
  • Absence due to shopping, looking after other children or birthdays
  • Absence due to day trips and holidays in term-time which have not been agreed
  • Leaving school for no reason during the day

Persistent absenteeism:

  • Missing 10 percent or more of schooling across the year for any reason

Training of staff

The school will recognise that early intervention can prevent poor attendance. As such, staff will receive training in identifying potentially at-risk students as part of their induction and refresher training.

Teachers and support staff will receive training on this policy as part of their induction. Following this initial training, staff will receive regular and ongoing advice as part of their development.

Staff will understand that increased absence from school could indicate a safeguarding concern, and know how such concerns should be managed.

Student expectations

Students are expected to attend school every day. Their attendance should be at, or above, 95 percent throughout the year.

Students at risk of persistent absence (PA)

The school will ensure it provides support to students at risk of persistent absence (PA), in conjunction with all relevant external authorities, where necessary.

The SLT will:

  • Establish a range of evidence-based interventions to address barriers to attendance.
  • Monitor the implementation and quality of escalation procedures and seek robust evidence of the escalation procedures that work.
  • Attend or lead attendance reviews in line with escalation procedures.
  • Establish robust escalation procedures which will be initiated before absence becomes a problem by:
    • - Sending letters to parents.
    • - Engaging with the Pupil Welfare Service
    • - Using fixed penalty notices.

Where a student at risk of PA is also at increased risk of harm, the school will work in conjunction with all relevant authorities, e.g. social services, to support the student in line with the school’s duty of care.

Where a student becomes at risk of PA, the school will:

  • Establish plans to remove barriers and provide additional support.
  • Make regular contact with families to discuss progress.
  • Consider what support for re-engagement might be needed, including for vulnerable groups.

The school attendance system will be used to give an accurate and informative view of attendance, reasons for absence and patterns within groups, including:

  • Children in need
  • LAC
  • Students who are eligible for FSM
  • Students with EAL

Absence procedures

Parents will be required to contact the school office either through telephone, SIMS Intouch or Tapestry as soon as possible on the first day of their child’s absence.

A text message will be made to the parent of any student who has not reported their child’s absence on the first day that they do not attend school.

The school will always follow up any absences in order to:

  • Ascertain the reason for the absence.
  • Ensure the proper safeguarding action is being taken.
  • Identify whether the absence is authorised or not.
  • Identify the correct code to use to enter the data onto the school census system.

In the case of PA, arrangements will be made for parents to speak to the School Business Manager. The school will work with the Pupil Welfare Service to monitor attendance.

If a student’s attendance drops below 95 percent, the School Business manager will contact parents via a letter to inform them of their child’s attendance levels.

Where a student has not returned to school for 10 days after an authorised absence, or is absent from school without authorisation for 20 consecutive school days, the school will follow the children missing from education protocol.

Parental involvement

The school will build respectful relationships with parents and families to ensure their trust and engagement. Open and honest communication will be maintained about the expectations of school life, attendance and performance so that they understand what to expect and what is expected of them. The school will liaise with other agencies working with students and their families to support attendance, e.g. social services.

Parents will be expected to:

  • Treat staff with respect.
  • Actively support the work of the school.
  • Call staff for help when they need it.
  • Communicate with the school about possible circumstances which may affect their child’s attendance or require support.

Attendance register

Attendance registers are taken morning and afternoon. This register will record whether students are:

  • Present.
  • Absent.
  • Attending an approved educational visit.
  • Unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances.

The school will use the national attendance codes to ensure attendance and absence are monitored and recorded in a consistent way. The following codes will be used:

  • / = Present in the morning
  • \ = Present in the afternoon
  • L = Late arrival before the register has closed
  • C = Authorised absence
  • E = Excluded but no alternative provision made
  • H = Authorised holiday
  • I = Illness
  • M = Medical or dental appointments
  • R = Religious observance
  • B = Off-site education activity
  • G = Unauthorised holiday
  • = Unauthorised absence
  • U = Arrived after registration closed
  • N = Reason not yet provided
  • X = Not required to be in school
  • T = Gypsy, Roma and Traveller absence
  • V = Educational visit or trip
  • P = Participating in a supervised sporting activity
  • D = Dual registered – at another educational establishment
  • Y = Exceptional circumstances
  • Z = Student not on admission register

When the school has planned in advance to be fully or partially closed, the code ‘#’ will be used for the relevant students who are absent. This code will also be used to record year groups who are not due to attend because the school has set different term dates for different years, e.g. induction days.

All amendments made to the attendance register will include the original entry, the amended entry, the reason for the amendment, the date of amendment and the name and role of the person who made the amendment.

Every entry received into the attendance register will be preserved for three years.

Pupil Welfare Officer (PWO)

If they are persistently absent, students will be referred to the Pupil Welfare Officer (PWO) who will attempt to resolve the situation through a parent agreement. If the situation cannot be resolved and attendance does not improve, the PWO has the power to issue sanctions such as prosecutions or penalty notices to parents.

The PWO will monitor and analyse attendance data regularly to ensure that intervention is delivered quickly to address absence, and will provide regular reports to staff across the school to enable them to track the attendance of students and to implement attendance procedures.

Lateness

The school will regard punctuality as of the utmost importance and lateness will not be tolerated.

Students can arrive at school between 08:50 and 9:00.  Registers are taken as follows throughout the school day:

  • Registers are marked by 9:05 am. Students will receive a late mark (L) if they are not in their classroom by this time.
  • Registers are closed at 09:15 am Students will receive an arrived after registered closed mark (U) after that time.
  • After lunch, registers are marked by 1:30 pm. Students will receive a mark of absence if they are not present.

The school will require parents to observe the school holidays as prescribed; therefore, the headteacher will be unable to authorise holidays during term-time in most cases. The headteacher will be only allowed to grant a leave of absence in exceptional circumstances. Applications will be made in advance and the headteacher will be satisfied by the evidence which is presented, before authorising term-time leave. The headteacher will determine the amount of time a student can be away from school during term-time. Any leave of absence is at the discretion of the headteacher. Any requests for leave during term-time will be considered on an individual basis and the student’s previous attendance record will be taken into account. 

Requests for leave will not be granted in the following circumstances:

  • When a student’s attendance record shows any unauthorised absence
  • Where a student’s authorised absence record is already above 10 percent for any reason

If parents take their child out of school during term-time without authorisation from the headteacher, they may be subject to sanctions such as penalty fines.

Leave during lunch times

Parents may be permitted to take their child away from the school premises during lunch times with permission from the headteacher – it is at the headteacher’s discretion as to whether a student will be allowed to leave the premises.

Parents will submit a written request, outlining the reasons for their child to leave the premises during lunch time – this request will be submitted to the headteacher. The headteacher will consider the request and will invite the parent into the school for a discussion regarding any concerns, as well as the timely return of their child at the end of lunch time. The headteacher reserves the right to grant or refuse a request and will inform the parent in writing of their decision within one week of the request.

The headteacher reserves the right to withdraw their permission at any time – this may occur, for example, where there are attendance concerns. Any decision to withdraw permission will be in writing, explaining the reasons for the headteacher’s decision. If permission is withdrawn, parents will not be entitled to appeal the decision. Parents will be able to withdraw their request at any time – the request will be submitted in writing to the headteacher.

Missing children

The following procedures will be taken in the event of a student going missing whilst at school:

  • The member of staff who has noticed the missing student will inform the headteacher immediately.
  • The office staff will also be informed as they will act as a point of contact for receiving information regarding the search.
  • A member of staff will stay with the rest of the class, and all other available members of staff will conduct a thorough search of the school premises as directed by the headteacher.
  • The following areas will be systematically searched:
    • - All classrooms
    • - All toilets
    • - Hall
    • - The library
    • - Quiet rooms
    • - Soft Play Space
    • - Sensory Pod
    • - Any outbuildings
    • - The school grounds
  • Available staff will begin a search of the area immediately outside of the school premises, and will take a mobile phone with them so they can be contacted.
  • If the student has not been found after 10 minutes, then the parents of the student will be notified.
  • The school will attempt to contact parents using the emergency contact numbers provided.
  • If the emergency contacts list has been exhausted, the police will be contacted.
  • The missing student’s teacher will fill in an incident form, describing all circumstances leading up to the student going missing.
  • If the missing student has an allocated social worker, is a looked-after child then the appropriate personnel will be informed.
  • When the student has been located, members of staff will care for and talk to the student to ensure they are safe and well.
  • Parents and any other agencies will be informed immediately when the student has been located.

The headteacher will carry out a full investigation and will draw a conclusion as to how the incident occurred. A written report will be produced, and policies and procedures will be reviewed in accordance with the outcome where necessary.

Religious observances

The school will take advice from local religious leaders of all faiths to establish the appropriate number of days of absence required for religious festivals. Parents will be required to inform the school in advance if absences are required for days of religious observance.

Appointments

As far as possible, parents will be encouraged to book medical and dental appointments outside of school hours. Where this is not possible, a note and appointment card will be sent to the school office using SIMS, Tapestry or by phone.

If the appointment requires the student to leave during the school day, they will be signed out at the school office by a parent. Students will be expected to attend school before and after the appointment wherever possible.

Modelling, sport and acting performances/activities

The school will ensure that all students engaging in performances/activities (whether they, or another person, receives payment or not), which require them to be absent from school, understand that they will be required to obtain a licence from the LA which authorises the school’s absence(s).

Additional arrangements will be made by the school for students engaging in performances or activities that require them to be absent from school to ensure they do not fall behind in their education – this may involve private teaching. These arrangements will be approved by the LA who will ensure that the arrangements are suitable for the student.

The student will receive education that, when taken together over the term of the licence, amounts to a minimum of three hours per day that the student would be required to attend a school maintained by the LA issuing the licence. This requirement will be met by ensuring a student receives an education:

  • For not less than six hours a week; and
  • During each complete period of four weeks (or if there is a period of less than four weeks, then during that period), for periods of time not less than three hours a day; and
  • On days where the student would be required to attend school if they were attending a school maintained by the LA; and
  • For not more than five hours on any such day.

Where a licence has been granted by the LA and it specifies dates of absence, no further authorisation will be needed from the school. Where an application does not specify dates, and it has been approved by the LA, it is at the discretion of the headteacher to authorise the leave of absence for each day. The headteacher will not authorise any absences which would mean that a student’s attendance would fall below 96 percent. Where a licence has not been obtained, the headteacher will not authorise any absence for a performance or activity.

Young carers

The school understands the difficulties that face young carers, and will endeavour to identify young carers at the earliest opportunity, as well as through their time at the school. A caring and flexible approach will be taken to the needs of young carers and each student will be examined on a case-by-case basis, involving other agencies if appropriate.

The school, in conjunction with relevant authorities, will implement support for students who are young carers, to encourage their sustained and regular attendance at school in line with the school’s expectations.

Rewarding good attendance

Good attendance and punctuality will be rewarded in the following ways

  • Postcards home

Monitoring and review

Attendance and punctuality will be monitored throughout the year. The school’s attendance target is 95 percent excluding medical absences

This policy will be reviewed regularly by the headteacher.

Any changes made to this policy will be communicated to all relevant stakeholders.