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Attendance and Lateness
Please note that the situation with non attendance and lateness has changed from 1 September 2015. Below is the letter which was sent home to parents. If you have any queries concerning this matter please do make an appointment to discuss them with the headteacher.
You may recall that earlier this year I explained that we had been informed of some upcoming changes to the local authority’s approach to attendance and punctuality. I recently attended a briefing on this matter and I am now in a position to share with you the details of the changes.
I have to say that the changes are really quite major and there are significant implications for parents and families. Below I have tried to outline the changes to the policy.
- Up until now we have not pursued a policy of fining parents for taking unauthorised absence in term time. However, from September parents will automatically incur a fine if a child has 5 days unauthorised absence in a 100 day period.
- The 5 days do not need to be consecutive so a 2 day unauthorised absence in September followed by a 3 day unauthorised absence in October would trigger the fine.
- Significantly, the £60 fine is per child, per parent. This means that if a family with two children go on a 5 day holiday in term time the fine is likely to be £240.
- Fines need to be paid within 21 days and if not will increase to £120 per child per parent e.g. a fine of £240 if paid within 21 days or rising to £480 if paid between 21 and 28 days. If it is not paid after 28 days Hampshire County Council will proceed with court action.
- It is important to point out that unauthorised absences do not just relate to holidays. For example, if a child is absent from, school and no reason provided, this automatically becomes unauthorised. This makes it even more important that we are informed of reasons for absence on the morning of the first day.
- Arriving late for school, after registers close, on a repeated basis is also likely to trigger a fine. This is because these are recorded as unauthorised (of course, medical appointments and one-off emergencies would not be recorded as unauthorised). Registers officially close 15 minutes after the start of school which is 9.15am.
- From September, any child whose attendance falls below 90% will be considered as a ‘persistent absentee’ and we will be expected to be taking action to address this. This is a change from the current figure of 85%.
- It was explained to us that it is highly unlikely that the Local Authority would apply a fine for two years in a row and that if unauthorised absence became a repeating issue, they would be likely to proceed to legal action without a fine.
- From September, we have been told that we need to be using the Hampshire template for requesting any absence from school, this will replace the current system where we ask parents to put their request in writing.
- Although there is still some small discretion for schools to grant authorised leave in exceptional circumstances, it is very clear that these circumstances are very limited and do not include:
- Extended leave for family events i.e. weddings abroad.
- Days off to visit or spend time with relatives visiting the family.
- Birthday treats.
- Financial reasons i.e. only being able to afford a holiday in term time.
I am currently working with the other Headteachers in my area to agree a common attendance policy that will be based on the Hampshire template. It is not possible to give a definitive list of what would be an authorised leave but it is fair to say that the criteria is very limited and that we are obliged to work within county guidelines.
I am sure you will appreciate that regardless of our own views about the rights and wrongs of the detail of this policy, we are obliged as a Local Authority school to follow their guidelines and procedures.
Thank you for your continued support.