Why attendance really matters

“Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”

Nelson Mandela

At St. Thomas More we are committed to ensuring that each of our students fulfil their potential and so we place a very high priority on good attendance and punctuality Evidence shows that students who attend school regularly are more successful, students who have 100% attendance are more likely to achieve 5+ GCSE’s between 9-6 and are 4.7 times more likely to achieve EBACC than those missing 10-15% of school. Moreover, young people who regularly miss school without good reason are more likely to become isolated from their friends and/or become involved in anti-social behaviour.
It is a legal requirement for all children to attend school each day meaning all students should aim for 100% attendance. Having full attendance means that no learning time will be lost and allows students to be able to achieve their potential. We understand that sometimes there is a genuine need to have time off through family emergencies, such as a funeral, or if your child is genuinely too ill to attend. With this in mind our school attendance target is 97%. It is you responsibility to ensure your students attend school and parents can be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice by the Local Authority if your child does not attend school. 95% attendance is 10 days of learning missed and therefore is only ‘satisfactory’ according to the Department of Education while 90% attendance is equivalent to a full month off school in a year or half a day’s absence each week. By the time a pupil is persistently absent (85% attendance) they have missed 6 weeks or half a term of schooling.

Holidays

There is no entitlement in the law to take an absence of leave in school time for holiday. Head teachers cannot authorise any holiday in term time unless there are exceptional circumstances, which does not apply to a family holiday. According to the law you must ask permission for your children to miss school and this should be put in writing to the school as soon as possible. If you go on holiday without the authorisation of Mrs Bowen you may be liable to pay a fine and/or be prosecuted for non-attendance. A two week holiday in school time means your child will miss out on approximately 50 hours of work to catch up on!

Please think carefully before taking your child out of school during term time.

Procedures

Parents/Carers:

  • You have a legal responsibility to ensure your child attends school regularly.
  • Please telephone/email/text the school prior to morning registration whenever your child is absent.
  • Avoid making medical or other appointments during school hours where possible. When this is not possible please ensure that your child attends school before/after this appointment.
  • If your child is saying they do not feel well and you are unsure about whether it warrants a day off please send them to school. If they are truly ill, we will ring you.
  • We know that illness is unavoidable and to be expected. However, it is very important to inform the school on the first day of absence with the reason either by phone (01902 368796 Ext 3701/3702), by text or in person at the school office.

School will:

  • Call home daily if a child does not attend school and there has been no communication from home explaining why.
  • Monitor attendance closely. If your child’s attendance falls below 97% an informal meeting will take place with your child and their Assistant Head of Year. Parents will be informed of that meeting by letter or telephone call.
  • Contact parents/carers to discuss reasons for absence if your child’s attendance continues to fall below 96% without showing any signs of improving. This meeting will take place with Mrs Weighell, Head of Pastoral Care and/or the Assistant Head of Year. If attendance drops to below 90% pupils are identified as ‘Persistent Absentees’. A formal letter will be issued to parents/ carers about their child’s attendance record. All Persistent Absentee cases are also automatically made known to the Local Authority Attendance Team and our Education Welfare Officer will become involved and legal proceedings may ensue if an immediate improvement in attendance does not occur.
  • Request parents/carers to provide medical evidence (e.g. prescriptions, appointment cards, or a doctor’s note) to support illness in line with the Department for Education’s guidance.
  • Request for students to be brought into school to receive their morning mark before students go to appoints and/or return to school after their appointment.
  • Reward excellent and improved attendance.
  • Offer support and advice to both parents and students where there are attendance concerns/worries.

Punctuality

Persistent lateness can have the same adverse effect on the progress and wellbeing of children as poor attendance. Good timekeeping is a life skill and good habits need to be encouraged at school and at home.

Frequent lateness can also result in the loss of a considerable amount of learning time and this can put your child at a serious disadvantage. Did you know that:

  • being 5 minutes late every day equals over 3 days of learning missed
  • being 15 minutes late each day is the same as missing two weeks of school over the year

The start of the school day is an important time for children to develop their social skills with their peers, as well as preparing them for their learning. At St. Thomas More we start our learning every day at 8.40am. Students should therefore be at school by 8.30am to ensure a smooth and calm start to the day. School will monitor late arrivals and an after-school detention will be issued to students who are late three or more times in a week. To us, lateness is just as serious as nonattendance, therefore parents/carers of persistent latecomers – after three detentions; will be contacted to discuss and address the reasons behind the lateness to school. Persistent lateness could also lead to a Fixed Penalty Notice.

We hope that you will continue to support us in improving our school attendance and punctuality by making sure your child is here every day and learning, on time.