As you are no doubt aware attendance at school is a legal requirement and the responsibility of the parents/guardians of a child.
The Law is quite clear on this matter as it states that “if any child who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at the school, the parent of the child is guilty of an offence” (Education Act 2001 section 29).
Please be aware that the Department of Education has no discretion in this matter. Their policy is “to pursue parents (or those with care and control of children) without delay for the non school attendance of their children and to bring the matter to court.” (Dept of Ed Attendance Guidelines, updated December 2001)
This does not mean that every child who is absent will find their parents pursued by the Department. It is accepted that there are valid reasons for absence. As such, schools are able to label certain absences as “authorised absences”. These authorised absences can be for the following reasons:-
- Leave has been granted by the Head Teacher or relevant Deputy.
- The child was prevented from attending due to sickness.
- The absence occurred exclusively on a day set aside for religious observance by the religious body to which the parent belongs.
Leave can be granted by the Head/Deputy for the following reasons:-
- Receiving part time or temporary education off site
- Exclusion for a period of disciplinary reasons
- Sent home for illness or another reason
- Attending interview
- Approved activity
- Study leave
- Educational visit
- Work experience
Please note the Head/Deputy is meant to grant leave for the student to be absent for the above reasons ie. the school arranges or agrees to the absence.
These are treated in the same way as the above list. Parents have to ask for the school to grant leave for the child to be absent. The department’s policy is very clear and states:-
“Leave of absence for this purpose must not exceed two weeks in any educational year. Leave taken in excess of this two week period must, therefore, be recorded as an unauthorized absence.” (Primary and Secondary Schools Regulations 1950, revised, 2003)
At St Ninian’s the staff responsible for granting leave of absence are:-
The Head Teacher – Mr A C Fox
The Deputy Head Teachers – Mr A N Smith,
– Mr R G Cowley, Years 7, 8 & 9 (Lower School)
If leave of absence is not requested, or good reasons notified to the school, then the family will find that the Department of Education Attendance Officer will investigate the matter further. The sections earlier in this leaflet make it clear what may result if this is the case.
At St Ninian’s we would like to stress the positive:-
- Regular attendance at school has been proven over many years to help produce improved performance in all National tests and exams
- No reasonable request for a Holiday at a sensible time will be turned down.
- Absences explained by a note or doctor’s certificate are perfectly accepted.
We would advise the following:–
Students avoid holidays at the following times in certain school years:
Year 7 – The first six weeks of Autum Term – settling in period
– Early May – Subject / Department testing
Year 8 – Mid May – Year 8 exams
Year 9 – Period after February half term – Year 9 exams
Year 10 – Week before Easter holidays – Year 10 Work Experience
Easter to end of June – GCSE coursework, exams and revision
Year 11 – Mid January – Year 11 Mock GCSE
– Easter to end of June – GCSE coursework, exams and revision
We hope that this leaflet has clarified the situation regarding absence from school and holidays taken during school time. Should you wish to discuss these issues any further please contact the Head or relevant Deputy for your child’s year group.