At South Shields School excellent attendance and punctuality is our aim for every student. Full attendance maximises learning opportunities and parents/carers have a vital role in promoting good attitudes towards attendance.
We ask for support from parents/carers to ensure that their children are present at every opportunity, to arrive on time and to avoid allowing children to stay at home unnecessarily, or taking them out of school without authorisation. Evidence shows that students who attend school regularly make better progress both academically and socially.
We monitor student’s attendance closely and will follow up unexplained absence with parents/carers, by telephone and/or by letter. Where a student’s attendance record reaches a concerning level, we will contact parents/ carers to discuss ways in which the school can support you and your child.
Our school attendance target of 96% is the minimum that we expect for all students. Every lesson counts and it is this commitment to learning that will have a positive effect on student’s examinations and their futures.
Persistent Absence is a serious problem for students. Much of the work children miss when they are off school is never made up, leaving these students at a considerable disadvantage.
A student defined as a ‘Persistent Absentee’ is one who misses 10% or more of school. The Department for Education reduced this threshold from September 2015 from 15% previously.
Schools are challenged by the Government to address the problem of persistent absenteeism. The government has strengthened schools’ ability to respond by increasing Fixed Penalty Notices (fines) to £60 if paid within 21 days and £120 if paid between 21 and 28 days.
What to do if your child is ill:
If your child is too ill to attend school, parents/carers should contact the School Attendance Office as soon as possible by calling 0191 456 8929 Option 2. The telephone system allows callers to leave a message. Please give your child’s name, year group, the reason for the absence, and how long you expect the absence to last. We ask that you contact us each day that your child is absent unless you have given us an indication of how long the absence will last.
What to do if your child has an appointment:
All routine medical and other appointments should be arranged out of school time. In exceptional circumstances, where an urgent appointment is required or for hospital clinic appointments that operate during the day only, we require sight of an appointment card or letter in order to authorise any absence from school. All other appointments will be unauthorised.
Absence calls to parents/carers:
We take our safeguarding responsibility seriously and calls are made daily to the contact numbers of parents/carers if a student is absent where the Attendance Office has received no reason for absence. Calls are made on a daily basis, even where your child has been absent due to illness on previous days. We cannot assume that your child is still ill unless you have notified us.
NOTE: Please ensure your child realises the importance of attending registration on time and getting their present mark. Parents/carers can also help by ensuring that we hold up to date contact numbers.
All students are expected to arrive on time, ready for lessons. Students should be in school by 8.30am. After that, access to the school is by the main reception entrance only.
Reasons such as missing the bus, stuck in traffic, oversleeping or poor weather are not considered to be acceptable reasons for lateness, students will be expected to complete a detention for repeated lateness. We would be grateful for your support in ensuring that your child arrives on time.
Leave of Absence (including term-time holidays)
Amendments came into force in September 2013 and the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 now state that Headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.
There is a common misconception that any child is allowed to take 10 days’ holiday per year. This is not true. The government strongly urges parents/carers to avoid taking their children out of school for family holidays as this will disrupt their education.
Absence will not be authorised for reasons such as shopping for uniform, birthdays, day trips, weekends away etc.
Only exceptional circumstances warrant an authorised leave of absence. Parents/carers should make any request well in advance and in writing (a form is available from the School). Requests for absence for reasons such as compassionate leave, special family events, sporting or musical competitions, etc., should be made in the same way.
All requests are considered individually, taking into account the circumstances of the request. Other factors will be taken into account, such as:
• the time of year the student will be absent
• the attendance record of the student
• the number of previous requests for leave of absence
• the student’s ability to catch up
Parents will be notified of the school’s decision either by telephone or in writing.
Where a parental request has been refused, and parents continue to take their child out of school, this absence will be recorded as unauthorised. We reserve the right to apply to the Local Authority to issue a Penalty Notice under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003. This is a fine of £60 per parent for each child if paid within 21 days, rising to £120 per parent for each child if paid between 21 and 28 days. Failure to pay can result in prosecution in the Magistrates Court.
Celebrating Good Attendance
Good attendance is celebrated in assemblies. Weekly and half-termly awards are presented in assemblies. Whole school and year group attendance is updated and publicised regularly on displays within school.
Individual students’ good attendance is recognised. A weekly prize draw for vouchers takes place for each year group at the end of every term. Certificates are issued to students achieving above the school target of 96% on a termly and annual basis. End of year prizes are given to students with excellent attendance. There are special awards given to students with excellent attendance during their 5 years at South Shields School. Students with 98% attendance termly will be able to take part in the celebration event for that term.
Students are kept informed of their attendance levels via their advisor on a weekly basis and a targeted conversation will occur half termly with their Pastoral Leader.
Support for Attendance
We monitor students’ attendance and punctuality very closely. We follow up unexplained absence with parents/carers by telephone and/or letter/home visit. Where a student’s attendance reaches a concerning level, we will contact you by letter, telephone, or home visit to discuss ways in which we can work together to support you and your child. We may invite you to a meeting in school to discuss your child’s attendance and how the school can support you to improve this. Students who have concerning attendance will also be put into supportive groups to help them improve.
Fast Track to Attendance
The school has a responsibility to work with families to address attendance concerns. Where a student’s attendance continues to fall despite initial contact with parents/carers and the use of appropriate strategies to help improve attendance, the school may consider the use of the Fast Track to Attendance process. The Fast Track Process is a positive measure to support parents/carers to fulfil their legal responsibility to ensure the regular attendance of their child.
A Fast Track Panel meeting will be held and parents/carers and the student (if appropriate) will be invited to attend. An action plan will be drawn up at this meeting and parents/carers will be sent a letter explaining the outcome of the meeting and possible consequences. Following a monitoring period a review will be held and if insufficient improvement is made, the School will make a decision on the next steps. This could include the issue of a Penalty Notice, referral to the Magistrates Court for prosecution or, in some cases, the Fast Track process may be extended for a further period of time. For further details regarding legal sanctions, please see the relevant section or click on the link.
Parents/carers have a legal duty to make sure their child attends school regularly. The School can make a referral to the Local Authority where parents/carers are failing in their legal duty. The Local Authority has the power to enforce school attendance where this becomes problematic, including the power to prosecute parents/carers who fail to ensure their child’s regular attendance at school. If found guilty, parents/ carers could be fined up to £2500 and/ or imprisoned for 3 months.
Penalty notices are fines of £60 if paid within 21 days and £120 if paid between 12 and 28 days. They are an alternative to the prosecution of parents for failing to ensure their child attends school regularly.
• Department for Education/Gov.uk – Legal sanctions to enforce school attendance
• South Tyneside Council-Attendance information
• Department for Education/Gov.uk – School Attendance and Absence
• BBC Learning Parents information – School attendance and your legal responsibilities