Here at Downsbrook we are proactive in encouraging the highest standards of attendance and punctuality. We have a clear Attendance Policy which outlines our approach to addressing attendance issues.
We believe that high levels of attendance are directly linked to pupil attainment and fulfilling potential. Excellent attendance and a punctual start to the school day are important to all children and the smooth running of our school. We will encourage parents/carers to ensure that their child achieves maximum possible attendance and that any problems which prevent this are identified and addressed quickly.
Children who regularly miss school without good reason are more likely to become isolated from their peers and friends, to underachieve in examinations and or become involved in anti-social behaviours.
There may be occasions when a child has to miss school – for example if they are unwell. Any other absences should be kept to an absolute minimum. In particular, parents must avoid taking their children out of school during term time in order to go on holiday.
Through maintaining a robust approach to attendance we want to do all we can to give every child every chance of success.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
The law makes it clear that parents do not have any right or entitlement to take a child out of school for the purpose of a term time holiday. The regulations do state that Headteachers may, in certain special circumstances, grant up to 10 school days leave in a school year, but parents should not expect such leave to be granted as a right. Indeed at the federation as of October 2007, in most cases Headteachers will refuse to authorise leave. The Government’s own guidance on the issue of term-time holidays states:
"PARENTS SHOULD NOT NORMALLY TAKE PUPILS ON HOLIDAY DURING TERM TIME".
HOW WE DEAL WITH REQUESTS FOR TERM-TIME HOLIDAYS
Our school has a very strict policy about term time holidays. Our policy is to refuse all applications for holidays during term time. The law clearly states that a parent has no right to expect 10 days of holiday absence and that it is at the discretion of the school.
WHY HAVE WE MADE THIS DECISION?
We are judged for our attendance figures by OfSTED at each inspection, and we are required by law to publish our attendance figures to the Department for Children and Schools. As a school, we do not accept that our children will miss out on their education due to holidays during term time. The school term dates leave plenty of time for holidays.
HOW TO APPLY FOR SPECIAL LEAVE DURING TERM TIME
Please visit the school office and ask for a special leave form – this must be done with as much as notice as possible, in advance of your proposed leave dates. Fill in the form for the attention of the Head of School. You should expect to hear from us within 5 working days. Term time holidays will NOT BE GRANTED unless there are exceptional circumstances which might justify it and your child has an attendance of 96% or above.
WHAT ARE EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES?
It is the decision of the Head of School as to what might constitute exceptional circumstances and each request for term time leave will be considered on an individual basis.
Exceptional leave is NOT:
- Availability of cheap holidays
- Availability of desired accommodation
- Poor weather experienced during school holiday periods
- Overlap with the beginning or end of term.
Exceptional leave MAY be:
- Grandparent or other close relative is seriously ill – and you must leave in an emergency
- Significant trauma in the family recently and a holiday will benefit the child – usually backed up by a doctor’s referral
- A one-off, never to be repeated occasion that can only happen at that time, e.g. wedding/funeral.
- Educational experience for the child offered by a regional or national organisation, e.g. filming for a TV commercial or a ballet exam.
BUT THE SCHOOL HAS AUTHORISED MY SPECIAL LEAVE – WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
If we do authorise a special leave of absence under exceptional circumstances, you must understand the likely educational impact upon your child. We will also explain what work your child will miss at school, and agree with you how this may be addressed, either during the holiday or upon your return. Taking work with you on special leave is no substitution for classroom teaching.
If we do authorise your leave you will receive the approved special leave form signed by the Head of School. A copy will be kept in the file in the office for our records.
This letter is your proof that the special leave has been authorised – so it is important you keep it safe should you need to show it to our members of staff.
MY REQUEST WAS REFUSED - WHAT IF I DECIDE TO GO ANYWAY?
If your child is out of school for more than 10 sessions in a 10 week period you may be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice.
A GUIDE TO FIXED PENALTY NOTICES
Sections 444 Education Act 1996
Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003
Crime and Disorder Act 1998
The Fixed Penalty Notice Scheme for unsatisfactory school attendance is in use in West Sussex. This guide offers you a brief summary about the Fixed Penalty Notice scheme and what it could mean for you.
What is a Fixed Penalty Notice?
It is a fine given for unauthorised absence from school, rather than the matter being brought before the courts. It is issued per parent, per child. Please note ONLY a Headteacher can authorise absence from school.
Who issues them?
In West Sussex the Local Authority issues them through the Pupil Entitlement: Investigation..
When are they used?
• When a pupil has a minimum of ten school sessions recorded as unauthorised in a ten school week period; A school day is divided into two sessions, am and pm.
• Persistent late arrival at school after the register has been taken and is recorded as an unauthorised absence.
• A holiday in term time which has not been authorised by the Head Teacher. The Government has directed Head Teachers to only grant leave for a holiday in exceptional circumstances.
• FPNs can also be used during the first five days of an exclusion. Parents are made aware of the consequences by letter when a child is excluded from school.
If the school refers a period of absence that is longer than fifteen consecutive school days; Pupil Entitlement: Investigation may consider that a FPN is not appropriate. In these instances the matter may instead be brought directly before the Courts.
How much is the fine?
The FPN is issued with an invoice for £120 and twenty eight days are given for you to settle the penalty. If the FPN is paid within the first twenty one days the amount payable is reduced to £60.
How do I pay?
Information regarding payment would be included on the Fixed Penalty Notice, payment cannot be made in part or by instalments.
What happens if I don’t pay?
If you don’t pay within the twenty eight days the Local Authority will consider instigating a prosecution in the Magistrates Court for the offence of poor school attendance. If proven this could result in a fine of up to £1,000 per parent per child &/or a parenting order or a community service order and also costs.
Can I appeal?
There is no statutory right of appeal once a notice has been issued.
Can I be prosecuted if I pay the Fixed Penalty Notice?
You cannot be prosecuted for the period of absence identified in the Fixed Penalty Notice. You may subsequently be prosecuted for further periods of unauthorised absences from school. Each case is considered on an individual basis.
For further information please contact:
Pupil Entitlement: Investigation
Fixed Penalty Notice Team
West Sussex County Council
2nd Floor Centenary House
Advice Line Phone: 03302 228200