Why Good Attendance is Essential
The Governors and staff at St. Michael’s Church of England Primary Academy are united in their belief that regular school attendance is the key to enabling children to maximise the educational opportunities available to them. Helping them to become emotionally resilient, confident and competent adults who are able to realise their full potential and make a positive contribution to their community.
St. Michael’s values all children. As set out in this policy we will work with families to identify the barriers to achieving and maintaining excellent attendance and offer the right service at the right time to try to resolve any difficulties.
The Attendance Team (SLT, Family Support Worker, Attendance Support Worker and Office Manager) will monitor attendance and use attendance data to identify any patterns of concern, whilst also celebrating success! Attendance concerns will be raised with parents if reasons are not known by the school, e.g. a long period of illness, this information may be shared with the Local Authority following concerns. Where we have concerns, or lack of engagement from families to improve attendance, we will follow the schools escalated approach to improving attendance. The schools escalated approach is child-centred and prioritises support and developing strong working relationships with families. We will use the Early Help process to provide support prior to escalation and consider how we can work with families to enable your child to access their right to education (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – Article 28).
Our aim is to always to work in partnership with parents and any referral for consideration of a penalty notice is deemed to be a last resort at St. Michael’s. Attendance figures for each child will be reported to parents as part of the annual report, we will also share a child’s attendance profile if we have concerns regarding a child’s attendance. Throughout the school year the Attendance Team will report on the overall attendance figures for children groups, this will be closely monitored for support and reported to the Governing Body.
Our expectations of parents:
- Parents are legally responsible for ensuring their children attend the Academy regularly and may risk prosecution if they fail in this responsibility.
- Parents should ensure that their children arrive at school on time, with the correct equipment and in full school uniform.
- Parents should support the Academy by avoiding, if possible, non-emergency medical/dental appointments for their child during Academy time.
- Parents should be aware that they do not have the automatic right to take their child out of the Academy for a holiday during term time.
- It is the parents’ responsibility to inform the Academy of the reason for a child’s absence on the first day of absence and in line with the Academy’s procedures for informing of absence.
- All unexplained attendances will be monitored and parents will be kept informed about any attendance concerns relating to their own child. Parents are expected to attend meetings when requested and support the Academy in responding to ongoing attendance concerns.
Our expectations of children:
- All children should aim to have an excellent attendance and punctuality record for which there will be appropriate rewards.
- All children are expected to be on the Academy site on time and ready to learn. Children are expected to be punctual to all lessons and registration.
- Children who arrive at school late must follow the correct procedures for recording their lateness and entering their lesson.
- Children who need to leave school for a medical appointment must follow the correct procedures for recording that they have permission to leave and have left the building.
- Children must not leave the Academy without permission, ‘truant’; this will be seen by the Academy as a Safeguarding concern as well as a Health and Safety concern.
Our expectations of staff:
- Provide a good example by always being punctual to registration and meeting children at the door – providing a welcoming environment;
- Keep an accurate and up-to-date register of attendance;
- Follow the Attendance Policy procedures when dealing with absences and punctuality;
- Maintain swift action and effective communication with the Attendance Team on all attendance matters concerning their class;
- Ensure that children and young people are aware of the importance of the school attendance target and their own individual attendance targets - where appropriate assist them in monitoring their own attendance rates;
- Ensure children receive rewards in relation to attendance and punctuality success – aligned to the Attendance Policy:
- Build a welcoming atmosphere in the classroom and provide support as necessary when children return after an absence.
Strategic Approach to Improving Attendance
St. Michael’s adopts the ‘5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice Framework’, this is modelled on the work of Professor Katherine Weare and positively reviewed by the DfE. The emphasis is on developing a school culture and climate which builds a sense of connectedness and belonging to ensure all children can attend school and thrive. The approach ensures we prioritise building solid working relationships with children, and parents, prior to escalation. The staged approach we follow ensures we identify triggers early that can lead to poor attendance issues such as mental health issues, lack of trust, communication and relationship breakdowns and the possible lack of networking opportunities both internal (in-school) and external (external agencies).
Aims of the 5 Foundations strategy
- Increase school Attendance and reduce Persistent Absence to meet set targets.
- Ensure Attendance is well managed within the school, with the appropriate level of resources allocated.
- Enable the school to make informed use of attendance data to target interventions appropriately, focusing on the key demographic groups highlighted in the 2022 DFE attendance paper.
- Create an ethos within the school in which good attendance is recognised as the norm and every child aims for excellent attendance.
- Make attendance and punctuality a priority.
- Set focused targets to improve individual attendance and whole school attendance levels.
- Embed the 5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice framework which defines agreed roles and responsibilities and promotes consistency in carrying out designated tasks with respect to promoting attendance and punctuality.
- Record and monitor attendance and absenteeism and apply appropriate strategies to minimise absenteeism.
- Develop a systematic approach to gathering and analysing relevant attendance data.
- Provide support, advice and guidance to; parents, children and develop mutual cooperation between home and the school in encouraging good attendance and in addressing identified attendance issues.
- Demonstrate, using rewards, that the school recognises good attendance and punctuality are achievements in themselves.
5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice
The main aim of the framework is to ensure the school promotes a culture of good attendance and celebrates success. Ultimately, the framework will ensure there is a culture of feeling safe and school being a place where children want to be.
Positive health and emotional well-being are key factors in improving social development, school attendance and educational achievement. The 5 Foundations of Effective Attendance Practice model promotes, and supports, a whole school approach to mental health and emotional well-being; ensuring SEMH support remains a key driver in improving attendance for all children.
Each Foundation is supported by 5 Key Performance Indicators, these are used to ensure the school can embed the Foundations framework and understand the strategic direction regarding attendance improvement. Each year the school will use the 5 Foundations self-assessment tool to understand what works well and identify what we need to do even better. We then follow the 5 Foundations school improvement process to implement the attendance plan and ultimately improve the lives of children and families we work with.
Foundation 1: Whole-School Thinking, Culture and Climate
The school has a fully embedded ethos in which excellent school attendance is expected, developed and nurtured. The escalated approach to supporting attendance is built on foundations of belonging and connectedness.
Foundation 2: Supportive Policies, Systems and Processes
The approach to improving attendance is built on clear policies, systems and processes. This ensures continuous and sustainable improvement drives attendance practice. The attendance policy is understood by all stakeholders and allows the school to set, and maintain, high expectations to improve the culture of attendance.
Foundation 3: Professional Learning and Staff Development
The school prioritises developing a team of attendance experts, with a shared vision and core purpose. The Attendance Leader delivers bespoke training to support all staff to fully understand their role in improving attendance. External partnerships support attendance improvements through a multi-disciplinary approach for identified children and families.
Foundation 4: Implement Targeted Programmes and Interventions
Data information and analysis direct resources proactively towards key demographic groups and identified individuals. The expert use of data analysis informs decision making at all levels. The attendance process ensures the Attendance Leader understands the reason for attendance concerns, these barriers can then be successfully supported and removed.
Foundation 5: Connect Appropriately with Approaches to Behaviour Management
Connecting and belonging drives the school approach to supporting attendance. All staff are supported to understand 'deeper roots' regarding poor attendance concerns. The school has developed, and embedded, an effective rewards system to further drive attendance improvements and celebrate success.
Attendance Support Map
There are 190 days of learning during the course of an average school year. The table below summaries how many days absence equate to a child being classed as Persistently Absent and also a Severely Absent Child.
Every child at St. Michael’s - Good Attendance
St. Michael's is a place where every child belongs. We create a welcoming environment underpinned by the values of Community, Aspiration, Learning and Love. All children are cared for and educated in an environment where all adults believe all children can achieve academically through regular school attendance.
4 days off school - Early Concern
- Concerning levels of child absence.
- Internal monitoring.
- Attendance Concern 1 (AC1) letter sent to parents.
- Early intervention considered as a preventative measure.
- Possible Early Help support offered by the Family Support Worker.
7 days off school - Serious Concern
- Serious concerns regarding attendance.
- Attendance Concern 2 (AC2) letter sent to parents.
- Parents requested to meet with a member of the Attendance Team.
- Explore barriers to good attendance and implement a programme of support to eradicate barriers.
- Early Help support reviewed or offered.
10 days off school - High Risk of Persistent Absence
- The child is at high risk of Persistent Absence.
- Attendance Concern 3 (AC3) letter sent to parents.
- Attendance Team meeting with parents, led by the headteacher. This meeting is known as the School Attendance Review Meeting (SARM).
- This is the start of the FAST-track school attendance process.
- Review of Early Help and intervention programmes.
- Consider the support of external services.
13 days off school - Serious Risk of Persistent Absence
- The child is at serious risk of Persistent Absence.
- Formal warning notice sent to parents.
- Continued internal and external programmes of support.
- Parenting contract or supervision order considered at this stage.
- A multi-disciplinary approach to be considered and offered.
16 days off school - Soon to be Persistent Absence
- The school will work closely with the Local Authority.
- All avenues have been exhausted and support is not working or not being engaged with.
- The school will now enforce attendance through statutory intervention or prosecution to protect the pupil’s right to an education.
- All support, and offer of support, to be reviewed.
- Continued support of the child and family.
19 days off school - Persistent Absence
- The child is now considered to be Persistently Absent.
- Persistent Absence is when a child overall absence equates to 10% or more of the possible sessions to date.
- Over an academic year, this means missing 19 days or more of school.
- At this stage, the child will be Persistently Absent for the remainder of the year, even if their attendance improves going forward.
- Safeguarding referrals to Children's Advice and Support Service (CASS) – otherwise known as ‘social services’.
- The child and family will continue to be supported by the school
Leave During Term time
From 1st September 2013, the Government amended the England (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006. Head teachers may only grant leave in ‘exceptional circumstances’ only. St. Michael’s observes Birmingham City Councils ‘Leave in Term Time Guidance for schools and Academies’.
Parents wishing to apply for leave during term time must send a written request for the attention of the Headteacher before making any arrangements. A request form can be collected from the school office. Retrospective requests will not be considered and therefore will result in the absence being categorised as unauthorised. Each leave during term time request will be considered on an individual basis.
If a child fails to return and contact with the parent has not been made or received, school may take the child off the school’s roll in compliance with the Education (Pupil registration, England) Regulations 2006. This means that the child may lose their school place.
If the permission to take leave is not granted and the child is still absent from school, the absence will be unauthorised. In such cases the school may consider legal action.
Only in exceptional circumstances will absence be agreed. In such cases, consideration will be given to the cultural needs and the family circumstances, such as a child returning to their country of origin for legal reasons. In these cases, granting leave for longer periods than normal may be considered justified. In all cases though, parents will be required to justify why the leave needs to be taken during term time.
Persistent Absence - 19 Days Off
At St. Michael’s we aim to communicate the importance of attendance with parents and children. We have a particular focus on reducing Persistent Absenteeism at the school. The Persistent Absence threshold for children is currently 10% and Ofsted will use this threshold in its inspection of schools.
The threshold means that any child will be classed as Persistently Absent when they have missed 38 or more sessions. This equates to 19, or more, missed days during the academic year - which is as little as 6 days over each of the three terms. This also equates to the equivalent of 1 day of absence, or more, a fortnight across a full school year.
We will use a 19-day tracking system to make you aware of the number of days your child has missed in education. This will allow us to work together to reduce the number of days and attempt to prevent your child from reaching this number.
Once a child has reached 38 sessions, or 19 days absence, they will be classified as Persistently Absent from school and we will report this to the Local Authority and follow external legal proceedings. No matter how hard a child tries, once they are classed as Persistently Absent for the academic year, they can’t cease being this, no matter how much their attendance improves.