A child’s success at school is likely to be affected negatively if their attendance is poor. Those who do not attend regularly may fall behind in their learning leading to feelings of frustration and unhappiness. As a Church in Wales school, we seek to provide a Christian environment in which all young people can flourish as a member of a happy, caring and safe community. It is our goal that each of our pupils attends school regularly and on time, making the most of the opportunities available to them.
Non-attendance is an important issue that is treated seriously. However, every case is different and we will always try to support families to improve the situation. The St Teilo’s Cluster Attendance Policy is designed to help teachers, parents and pupils understand their rights, responsibilities and roles when it comes to school attendance. By working in partnership, it is our hope that every pupil achieves over 95% attendance.
The St. Teilo’s cluster of schools aims to:
- Give attendance and punctuality a high priority;
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities to ensure consistency and rigour;
- Provide support, advice and guidance to families;
- Use attendance data systematically to evaluate success;
- Use sanctions sensitively and only when necessary to bring about positive improvements in attendance and punctuality;
- Work in partnership with the Education Welfare Service to improve attendance; and
- Support pupils returning to school after significant periods of absence.
Rights, responsibilities and roles
The St Teilo’s Cluster Attendance Policy has its basis in Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). We believe that all young people have the right to education, based on equality of opportunity, and that the school, in partnership with parents and other parties, must take measures to encourage regular school attendance and reduce rates of absenteeism.
St. Teilo’s cluster schools are required under The Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010, to take attendance registers twice a day; at the start of the morning session and once during the afternoon session.
Parents are required under section 7 of the Education Act 1996, to ensure that their child receives effective full-time education.
Cardiff Local Authority is required under section 437 of the Education Act 1996, to ensure that a child for whom they are responsible is receiving suitable education by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
The St Teilo’s Cluster Attendance Policy is written to ensure compliance with statutory requirements and in the understanding of life based on the Christian faith as taught by the doctrines of the Church in Wales.
Parents are asked to contact the school by telephone on the first day of their child’s absence. Nominated staff monitor absence message daily.
Should a pupil be absent from school without explanation, a text message will be sent to parents asking them to make contact with the school. If there are repeated days of absence, the school may seek to contact parents by telephone or letter to discuss the absence.
Absences may only be approved by the Headteacher. St. Teilo’s cluster schools exercise caution in the authorisation of absence and parents must seek to provide the school with a full picture of the reasons leading to their child’s absence.
The Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010 give schools discretionary power to grant leave for the purpose of a family holiday during term time. Parents do not have an automatic right to withdraw their child from school for a holiday and, in law, have to apply for permission from the school in advance. St. Teilo’s cluster schools will only authorise family holidays where parents are able to demonstrate that unique or exceptional circumstances prevent the holiday from being taken outside of term time. In general, holidays during term time will not be authorised.
When assessing requests for leave, the Headteacher will consider:
- The time of year of the proposed trip;
- The length and purpose of the holiday;
- The duration of the holiday and its impact on continuity of learning;
- The circumstances of the family and wishes of the parents; and
- The overall attendance pattern of the child.
The final decision to authorise leave or otherwise is a discretionary matter for the Headteacher.
St. Teilo’s cluster schools recognise the important role that parents play in promoting good school attendance. The school therefore seeks to provide professional, quality information and advice.
Cluster casework officers analyse attendance data for all pupils at the close of each half term. Pupils are categorised into one of four tiers, namely: low absence; moderate absence; chronic absence; or severe chronic absence.
For pupils with moderate absence, each school will provide a keyworker who will monitor absence at least weekly. The keyworker will communicate with the pupil and family to address barriers to good attendance and punctuality.
For pupils with chronic absence, the cluster will provide a casework officer who will monitor absence at least weekly. The casework officer will receive records from the keyworker, conduct a profiling assessment with the child and family and write an action plan.
For pupils with severe chronic absence, the casework officer will review the action plan with all stakeholders and refer to statutory and third sector partners as appropriate. They will monitor absence daily.
For pupils with severe chronic absence for a consecutive half term, the casework officer may refer to the Education Welfare Service.
When a pupil has been absent for an extended period, they are welcomed positively on their return. Each school is responsible for ensuring that support is made available to the pupil, helping them to ‘catch up’. In some cases, the school may choose to re-examine the pupil’s curriculum offer to encourage better attendance.
Attendance is reported to parents in all written school reports.
Hierarchy of sanctions
St. Teilo’s cluster schools are caring schools and always seek to resolve matters of poor attendance through effective partnership with parents. On the rare occasion that the school is unable to elicit in parents the support deemed necessary to encourage pupils to attend school, sanctions may be used. In the first instance, parents may receive letters or telephone calls which:
- Request reasons for their child’s absence;
- Request medical evidence for their child’s absence;
- Express concern about their child’s absence and offer advice and support;
- Advise them about their child’s lateness and ask for their help in getting their child to school on time;
- Advise them that the school has taken the decision not to authorise an absence;
- Advise them that a casework officer intends to visit their home;
- Advise them of their legal responsibilities to ensure their child attends school regularly;
- Advise them that they are at risk of receiving a Fixed Penalty Notice; or
- Advise them that a referral has been made to the Educational Welfare Service.
In some circumstances, the school may request that the Educational Welfare Service issue parents/carers with a Fixed Penalty Notice under The Education (Penalty Notices) (Wales) Regulations 2013.
Casework officers will liaise with the Education Welfare Service to provide the evidence required to prosecute parents who fail, without reasonable justification, to cause their child to attend school regularly, under sections 444(1) and 444(1A) of the Education Act 1996.
If you'd like to know more about how to improve your child's attendance to school, please contact us.