Term Dates & Attendance
At St Dennis Primary Academy we value the importance of regular attendance at school and we strive to have the highest attendance possible. High attendance (97%+) is essential to ensure uninterrupted progress and to enable children to fully develop their learning potential. Attendance is one of the aspects that Ofsted takes into account when evaluating:
The behaviour and safety of pupils, and the quality of leadership and management
These are two of the four ‘key judgements’ made during school inspections.
Attendance forms part of Ofsted’s overall judgement on the school and therefore it is important that the whole school attendance level is 95% or above. A school cannot be judged as a good school unless this attendance figure has been achieved. Each absence, whether it is for illness or other reasons, counts towards the overall judgement. Therefore it is important that wherever possible, efforts are made by parents and school staff to minimise pupil absence.
The attendance pattern for all children is monitored on a weekly basis, with the school seeking to work actively with parents to ensure a regular pattern is maintained. When a child’s attendance drops below an acceptable level, parents will receive a letter and be invited into school for a meeting.
Research has shown that poor attendance can seriously affect each child’s:-
- Attainment in school
- Progress in school
- Attitude towards learning
- Relationships with other children and their ability to form lasting friendships
- Confidence to attempt new work and work alongside others
- Long-term life chances
Each child’s attendance can be summarised as:
- 97%+ = Excellent – Well done! This will help all aspects of their progress and life in school. This will give them a good start in life and supports a positive work ethic.
- 95% = Average – Well done, strive to build on this.
- 93% = Poor – Absence is now affecting attainment and progress at school. Please work with the school urgently to improve the situation.
- 90% = Unacceptable – Absence is causing SERIOUS CONCERN. It IS affecting attainment and progress and is disrupting your child’s learning. We will work with you and the Education Welfare Officer [EWO] to improve your child’s attendance.
It is very important that children are on time every day for school. At 8:45 our children go into class and start their lessons straight away. If children are not coming into school until 9:00 they will have already missed 15 minutes of learning time. Over a week this will equate to missing 1 hour and 15 minutes and over a month they will miss 5 hours 15 minutes which equals a day in school.
Please ensure your children, for their benefit, are in school and on time every day.
Illness and Medical Appointments
If your child is unwell and can’t attend school then please contact the School Office by 9:00am to inform us. As part of our Safeguarding Procedures, the school office will endeavour to contact the parent or carer and other emergency contacts if no message has been received regarding the reason for the absence to check on the safety of the child.
a) Every effort should be made to arrange medical appointments outside school hours.
b) An appointment card or verification by the doctors/ dentist/hospital is required.
c) If it is necessary for a child to be out of school for this reason, the child should be returned to school directly after the appointment.
d) If your child is absent due to vomiting and diarrhoea then they should not return to school for the next 48 hours. The 48 hour period starts from the last time that the child is ill. This is to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to other children and adults at the school.
e) Medical evidence is required for absence greater than three days.
Types of Medical evidence we can use to authorise absences.
At times it is necessary for us to request medical evidence from parents to allow us to authorise their children’s absence from school. Below is a guide to what we will accept as Medical Evidence.
1. GP/Dental appointment card with date of appointment attended.
2. Medical appointment letter.
3. Empty prescribed medication packet with dispensing label attached.
4. Copy of prescription.
5. White return page of prescription. ( repeat prescription request)
6. Medical letter* from GP or medical professional advising student is unfit to attend school.
7. Medical certificate*
8. Compliment slip* from a Nurse at students medical practice confirming they are unfit to attend school
* Medical Certificates from an online GP service will not be accepted. Certificates must be produced from your Local GP that you are registered with. They must have physically seen your child and deemed them unfit to attend school.
For ongoing conditions that prevent a student attending school, it may be necessary for us to request medical evidence advising that the student is unfit to attend. This must also state how long this will be for.
Please note it is the parents/carers responsibility to provide the medical evidence when requested by the school. The school will not request or chase medical evidence from GP's/Consultants/Dentists etc.
Absence for a family holiday
The government recommends that head teachers should not grant leave of absence unless there are exceptional circumstances. The application must be made in advance and the head teacher must be satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances based on the individual facts and circumstances of the case which warrant the leave. Where a leave of absence is granted, the head teacher will determine the number of days a pupil can be away from school. A leave of absence is granted entirely at the head teacher’s discretion. The head teacher will not give permission for more than ten days’ absence for a family holiday in any school year except in exceptional circumstances.
Applying for absence because of a family holiday
If you have to take your family holiday during school term, please fill in the form provided in the link below and return it to school at least two weeks before the holiday. Please do not assume that you will automatically get permission for the absence because you have filled in the form. Please wait to hear if the head teacher agrees to your request.
If you take your child out of school without permission you will be committing an offence under the Education Act 1996. We may refer the matter to the Education Welfare Service who may decide to prosecute. A conviction may result in a fine of up to £2500, a prison sentence of up to three months of both. Alternatively a penalty notice may be issues under Section 444A and 444B of the Education Act 1996. This carries a fine of £60 if paid within 21 days or £120 if paid after this but within 28 days. Failure to pay the penalty notice may result in court action. The EWS may apply for Education Supervision Orders in the Family Proceedings Court and these are usually granted in cases that are clearly non-school attendance. However, an application for an Education Supervision Order may be refused if there are concerns about the child’s behaviour that are not totally about education.
In these circumstances the Court may direct Social Services to investigate a child’s circumstances under Article 56 of the Children (NI) Order 2005.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following information gives more details to help you to understand these changes and the specific new details of our policy, and any impact they may have on your future holiday plans.
The new application form is herein and the questions and answers below cover some of the main issues that were raised during consultation, and may be useful for you.
The Education Welfare Service and the Government make it clear that habits of absence and attitudes to attendance are formed much earlier on in a student’s education – particularly at Primary School.
What if I go on holiday, and then later in the year my child has illness and their attendance becomes low?
We have a series of procedures that we follow to try and work with families to try and help them to ensure good attendance. However if these do not work and a student fails to attend adequately there are a range of actions which can be taken. If absences are legitimate and a parent is doing all that can be reasonably expected to ensure good attendance – then there is no cause for concern. Each case it dealt with based on its own individual circumstances and the process is communicated throughout. It does reinforce our view that holidays in term time have a negative impact.
Does this mean we can’t go – even if we have already booked and paid for our holiday?
No, the holiday may still be taken, but there are potential consequences which should be understood by all families considering taking a term time holiday before they make their decision.
If we have already said no to authorisation, the details of any holiday exceeding 5 school days will be sent to the Education Welfare Service’s legal team to follow their fixed penalty notice system. In the first instance they would send a warning letter indicating that any future unauthorised holidays taken within the following 12 months would lead to a Fixed Penalty Fine of £100 per adult per student. This would also be issued if any additional unauthorised absence takes place in the 15 days after the warning letter was issued.
These fines are halved if they are paid within 28 days, but will lead to immediate prosecution if not paid within 42 days. If a family is already involved in a ‘Fast Track Prosecution Process’ this unauthorised holiday would further compound the warnings and potential for court action in their specific case.
If no application is received but a significant absence is noted, families would be asked for a reason for the absence. If illness is offered as a reason we reserve the right to request satisfactory medical evidence to prove the illness. In all cases of absence, the school has the right to refuse authorisation if it is not satisfied that reasons given are genuine.
How would this be recorded on my child’s absence record and what problems might this cause?
An unauthorised holiday is recorded as a ‘O’ on the attendance certificate. Any unauthorised absence or low attendance figure looks unimpressive.
Cornwall Council Recommended Term Dates 2020-21 & 2021-22 (please note that inset dates for the school are not yet set and this will be updated in due course)