Attendance & Holidays in Term Time
How is school attendance measured?
The government set school attendance rules and targets that the school must follow. At several points in the school year, a census of school information is taken by the government which includes attendance. This attendance information is analysed, compared to schools nationally and shared with the school, local authority and Ofsted. Headteachers and governors are held to account by Ofsted for poor school attendance.
What counts as good school attendance?
The government expects all pupils of statutory school age (the term after their 5th birthday) to achieve 95% minimum attendance each school year. The school year has 190 days. This means pupils are expected to attend for 181 days at least, each year (9 days absence for any reason). Absence figures include authorised absence for illness or approved holiday leave. An authorised absence is still an absence, in the government data. (There are exceptional rules for pupils who are on special timetables e.g. part-time, alternative site schooling and flexi-schooling).
What counts as poor school attendance?
Pupils whose attendance is at 90% or less (19 days absence in a year for any reason) are classed as Persistently Absent.
Schools are held to account for attendance through Ofsted inspections and by their governing bodies. Headteachers are expected to use their school absence policies to ensure good attendance in school, particularly focussing on Persistently Absent pupils. The local authority supports the school through their School Attendance Officers.
What are the authorised reasons my child can be off school?
There are only 2 authorised reasons for school absence:
- Your child is too ill to attend school
- You’ve got advance permission from the headteacher for an absence
Advance permission from the Headteacher refers to holidays and special events.
What do I do if my child is ill and cannot come to school?
Call the school each day that your child is ill before 9am to tell us they will not be in school. This is needed so we can authorise the absence in the register. It’s a parents’ duty to inform the school if their child is absent. If a child is frequently ill, the school may need to get medical evidence from the child’s doctor to prove their absence is genuine. (There are special rules for pupils with diagnosed medical conditions or on medical leave).
What happens if my child does not have good attendance?
It depends how poor their attendance has become. In the first instance the school will work with the family to support better attendance. Most times, school-led help will rectify the situation. Our wellbeing worker, Miss Wright, is trained to help families in improving attendance. But if things don’t improve, then the Local Authority has the power to use Parenting Orders, Penalty Fines and School Attendance Orders for persistently poor non-attendance, which can culminate in criminal prosecution in court.
Why does it matter if we’re a bit late for school?
Everyone has the odd occasion when they’re unavoidably delayed but persistent late arrival is a problem. When a child arrives late at school, they miss the start of lessons when the teacher gives instructions and explains the learning. Just 5 minutes late each day equates to nearly 3 whole days of lost school. 15 minutes late each day adds up to 2 weeks of lost learning. When you see it this way, it’s easy to see why it’s vital to be in school on time.
Can I go on holiday in term time?
You have to get permission from the headteacher if you want to take your child out of school during term time. There is no automatic entitlement in law to time off in school time to go on holiday and it is strongly discouraged by the government, local authority and school.
- make an application to the head teacher in advance (from the parent the child normally lives with) using the Holiday Request form on the website or from the school office.
What are the Exceptional Circumstances for Holiday Leave?
Exceptional Circumstances means that the events leading to the request are untypical and unusual and are highly unlikely to happen again. It’s up to the headteacher how many days your child can be away from school if leave is granted for Exceptional Circumstances.
Examples of exceptional circumstances where leave may be granted during term time are as follows:
- If a parent is armed service personnel and is returning from a tour of duty abroad where it is evidenced the individual will not be in receipt of any leave in the near future that coincides with school holidays.
- Where an absence from school is recommended by a health professional as part of a parent or child’s rehabilitation from a medical or emotional issue.
- The death or terminal illness of a close relative, only if Headteacher is satisfied that the circumstances are truly exceptional.
- Religious observance – The Education Act 1996 S444(3) (c), states ‘’on any day exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which his/her parent belongs’’.
- To attend a wedding or funeral of a close relative if the Headteacher is satisfied that the circumstances are truly exceptional; Leave should only be authorised for this purpose when a Headteacher is satisfied that there is a persuasive reason for holding the wedding during term time and there WILL be an onus on parents to show clear evidence that this absence is absolutely an exceptional circumstance.
- Where there are exceptional and unforeseen circumstances that fall outside of the above, the Headteacher may consult with the Local Authority Attendance Officer or with the governing body prior to any authorisation being given to the parent.
Evidence would be required in each case.
When considering exceptional term time leave requests, the following factors are considered:
- Time of the academic year when the leave has been requested
- Duration of the absence – number of school days being missed. Anything over 10 school days is unlikely to be authorised.
- The child’s current attendance and punctuality rate. If the child has attendance below 90% prior to the request, it is unlikely leave will be authorised.
- Exceptional Term time leave requested/taken in previous academic years for a similar purpose. Exceptional circumstances mean the event is unusual and untypical i.e. should not happen more than once.
- Whether parent/carers have considered limiting the amount of time the child would be absent from school e.g. wrapping around school holiday.
- Have alternative care arrangements been considered by the parent/carer to limit the time away from school.
- Impact on any interventions, assessments or referrals being undertaken with the child or family e.g. family support, social care assessments, CAMHS, SEN.
- The impact that the absence will have on the child.
- Whether it falls within any key stage national tests or exams.
Examples of circumstances NOT considered as exceptional
- Holidays abroad for the purpose of visiting a sick relative, excepting where that person is seriously ill. Medical evidence may be requested.
- Holidays taken in term time due to lower cost/parental work commitments.
- Holidays taken for the “experience” that is on offer.