Rydal Penrhos School
Rydal Penrhos is committed to providing a positive and supportive ethos where all pupils feel valued and respected and where they understand the importance of excellent attendance. We recognise that excellent attendance and punctuality are key factors in ensuring that the pupils in our care reach their potential.
We believe that the most important factor in promoting good attendance is the development of positive attitudes towards School. To this end, we strive to make our School a happy and rewarding experience for all pupils. We hope that our rich, engaging curriculum and focus on developing positive and respectful relationships and exceptional care within the community will encourage full attendance and a desire to participate fully in School life.
We place a high priority on promoting the importance of regular and punctual attendance to parents and pupils. We recognise that parents have a vital role to play and that there is a need to establish strong and supportive home-School links and effective communication systems in order to work in partnership to support individual pupils whenever there is concern about attendance. It is essential to resolve any problems as quickly as possible.
STATUTORY DUTY OF PARENTS / GUARDIANS
Parents / carers have a legal responsibility to ensure their child receives an education regardless of their socio-economic background. Under section 7 of the Education Act 1996, the parent / carer is responsible for ensuring that their child of compulsory school age receives efficient full-time education that is suitable to their child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have. This can be by regular attendance at school, alternative provision, or by elective home education (the parent / carer can choose to provide education for their child).
Parents / carers have a very important role to play in supporting their children’s education. Ultimately, all those with parental responsibility are accountable for the regular and punctual attendance of the children in their care.
STATUTORY DUTY OF SCHOOLS
Schools are required under the Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010 to take an attendance register twice a day, at the start of the morning session and once during the afternoon session. This register will indicate whether any absence was ‘authorised’ or ‘unauthorised’. The accuracy of the register is important to support any statutory interventions that may be required.
Absence can only be authorised by the School and cannot be authorised by parents. All absences will be treated as unauthorised unless a satisfactory explanation for the pupil’s absence has been received.
An absence is classified as authorised when a pupil has been away from School for a legitimate reason and the School has received notification from a parent or carer. For example, if a child has been unwell, the parent / carer writes a note, sends an email or telephones the School to explain the absence. In this instance, there may be occasions when the School requests written evidence that an appointment has been made and attended.
Absence will be authorised by the School if it is for the following reasons: sickness, unavoidable medical / dental appointments, days of religious observance, exceptional family circumstances such as bereavement, severe weather conditions preventing pupils from getting to school, etc.
An absence is classified as unauthorised when a child is absent without the permission of the School. Therefore, the absence is unauthorised if a child is away from School without good reason. Absence from School will not be authorised for reasons such as shopping, haircuts, missing the bus, sleeping late, etc.
Repeated or Unexplained Absences
Any pupil whose attendance is continually low or unexplained will be monitored closely. Letters are sent out to parents / carers of pupils whose attendance is a cause for concern, or a meeting with the School is requested. If attendance does not improve, agencies such as the Education Welfare Officer and / or healthcare and safeguarding professionals may be involved to provide support.
Parents / carers may be asked to provide medical evidence where there are repeated or long-term absences due to reported illness. This will usually be in the form of an appointment card, prescription or a doctor’s letter.
When a pupil has an illness that causes absence from school for over five days, the School will do all it can to send material home, so that they can keep up with their School work.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE DURING TERM TIME
Parents do not have an automatic right to withdraw their child from School in any event during term time, including family holidays. However, we do understand that there are circumstances under which a parent may legitimately require leave of absence for their child. In this instance, parents should put the request, in writing, to the Deputy Head at the Senior School, or to the Head of Prep School. Authorisation of absence is at the discretion of the Head. Each case will be scrutinised individually and authorisation given based upon the following criteria:
• the pupil’s attendance record to date;
• the child’s punctuality record;
• the timing of requested leave (e.g. it does not fall within the window of a national testing period);
• the length and purpose of the holiday;
• the duration of the holiday and its impact on the continuity of learning;
• the circumstances of the family and the wishes of parents.
Welsh Assembly guidance states:
“In term-time, parents do not have an automatic right to withdraw pupils for holidays and authorisation remains at the discretion of the Head, but this holiday must not exceed 10 days in any academic year.” Exceptional circumstances remain at the discretion of the Head (The Education [Pupil Registration] [Wales] Regulations 2010).
Applications for leave of absence must be made in writing at least four weeks in advance, unless circumstances prevent this. Failure to do so will result in the absence being unauthorised, which may ultimately result in legal action against the parent.
Exceptional circumstances remain at the discretion of the Head. Reasons may include the following:
• those families of serving armed forces personnel;
• the parents of a child experiencing a life-limiting illness;
• a family that has suffered acute trauma;
• attendance at a wedding or funeral of a person close to the family;
• any other circumstance that is viewed as exceptional.
Rydal Penrhos acknowledges the multi-faith nature of British society and recognises that on some occasions, religious festivals may fall outside School holiday periods or weekends, and this necessitates consideration of authorised absence or special leave for religious observance.
If the Head’s decision is not to agree to the request, then the holiday will be recorded as an unauthorised absence in the register.
PUNCTUALITY & LATENESS
Whilst the School realises that there many exceptional factors which cause lateness, regular or persistent lateness to School is not acceptable. If pupils miss the start of the day, they can miss out on the important time with their form tutor and tutor group during which vital information and news for the day is passed on. They may also miss out on lesson introductions and related work. Pupils arriving late to class can also disturb the flow of lessons and they may find it embarrassing; this could consequently encourage absence.
Good time-keeping is a vital life skill which will help our pupils as they progress through their School life and into the wider world.
Pupils who are consistently late will also be monitored closely and the same procedures followed as for those whose attendance is a concern. It must be emphasised that late arrival to School has to be considered an unauthorised absence unless good reasons have been provided to the contrary.
RIGHTS, ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES
The School will:
• promote a culture which identifies the importance of regular and punctual attendance;
• actively promote and encourage full attendance for all pupils;
• ensure that staff are aware of the registration procedures and their responsibilities in relation to registering attendance accurately (and raising any concerns about a pupil’s attendance or punctuality);
• address with parents /carers the importance of contacting the School early on the first day of absence;
• consult with pupils and their parents / carers on individual attendance and attendance targets, where there is cause for concern;
• endeavour to make the best provision it can for those children who, for whatever legitimate reason, are prevented from coming to School;
• support pupils in returning to School after an extended period of absence;
• ensure regular evaluation of attendance policy and procedures by the Senior Leadership Team and School Governors.
Form Tutors will:
• be responsible for monitoring the attendance of pupils in their form groups;
• follow up absences in the appropriate way, by checking that the absence has been reported by parents / carers;
• notify the relevant Head of School (Year 7; Years 8 and 9; and Years 10 and 11; and Years 12 and 13), Deputy Head and the Head of Pastoral Care in the Senior School, or Head of Prep School, when a pupil’s absence rate gives rise for concern.
• monitor attendance and the School’s policy and procedures in relation to this document;
• support the School with intervention and action plans;
• receive termly reports on attendance and review this policy annually;
• examine closely the information provided to them, and seek to ensure that our attendance figures are as high as they should be.
Parents / Carers should:
• familiarise themselves with the School’s Attendance Policy;
• ensure their child(ren) attend School regularly and punctually;
• contact the School on the first day of their child’s absence and explain the reason for the child’s absence – ‘unwell / not well’ is not a sufficient explanation;
• maintain contact with the School during continued absence;
• provide a note / medical documentation as requested if their child has been absent (even if a telephone call has been made), and this can be done via email;
• contact the School early where problems with their child’s attendance are emerging;
• support the School in intervention and action plans, including attending meetings when requested;
• not book holidays or take other leisure time on School days unless this is exceptional and permission from the Head of Senior or Head of Prep School (as appropriate) has been sought at least four weeks in advance and has been authorised accordingly.
• attend school regularly and punctually;
• try to achieve 100% attendance;
• participate fully when action plans to improve attendance are put into place;
• report to Reception to sign in / out if arriving or leaving at any time during the School day which falls outside the School’s morning registration period.
REGISTRATION & ABSENCE PROCEDURES
These procedures operate as follows:
• the School day / registration begins at 8.30am for all classes;
• pupils arriving after 8.30am should be signed in at the Reception Desk (in person for Senior Pupils or by their parents for Prep School pupils) in order that we can ensure that the School’s electronic register system is completed accurately;
• for pupils arriving after the close of registration at 8.45am, their attendance will be recorded as an unauthorised absence for the session unless a legitimate reason for lateness has been provided;
• pupils leaving during the school day must enter and leave through School Reception and be signed out in the book available (by their parent / guardian, if in the Prep School). This is essential for security and health and safety reasons;
• on the first day and each subsequent day of absence from School, parents / carers must telephone or email the School Reception Office (firstname.lastname@example.org for the Prep School, or email@example.com for senior pupils) by 9.30am, and report the reason for the absence. This is extremely important as concerns may be raised about a pupil’s whereabouts if we have not been informed. A member of the office staff will record the absence and the reason for it on the School’s electronic registration system (iSAMS);
• if notification of absence has not been received by 9.30am, the School will contact parents to check on the child’s whereabouts and safety;
• attendance will be analysed weekly by the members of staff responsible for pastoral care in the different sections of the School;
• if an absence remains unexplained after three days, a letter will be sent home to invite parents / carers into School to assess the problem and to develop an action plan, e.g. curriculum modification, ALN investigations, bullying issues, referral to other agencies or professionals;
• after ten days of unexplained absence, a referral will be made to the local Education Welfare Officer (EWO);
• for regular or longer-term absence greater than 2 weeks, an individual pupil re-integration plan will be adopted to support the pupil;
• upon return to School after any period of absence, parents / carers should send a letter / email to the School, confirming the reason for their child’s absence. This is essential information for the School registers and is a legal requirement;
• requests to attend dental or hospital appointments which cannot be made out of School hours should be sent by email to the Reception Office, for the attention of the child’s Form Tutor, to firstname.lastname@example.org (for the Prep School) or email@example.com (for senior pupils);
• permission for absence for reasons other than illness must be requested in writing to the Deputy Head of Senior School, Mrs Gabriella Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to the Head of Prep School, Mrs Lucy Davies (email@example.com). Parents are asked to exercise restraint when requesting such leave, as continuity of attendance is important for academic progress and social development;
• if there is any doubt as to the whereabouts of a pupil, the Form Tutor (or any member of staff who notes the absence) must take immediate action by notifying Reception. The School will then make contact straight away with the parent or carer in order to check on the safety of the child. If an unregistered absence is noted at any other point during the School day, the procedures for a ‘Missing Pupil’ will be followed.
Further support services are available, namely:
• the School Counsellor;
• Conwy Children and Families Services (Social Services);
• the local Education Welfare Officer (EWO).
MONITORING, REVIEW & CIRCULATION
This policy will be reviewed annually by the Senior Leadership Team and the Designated Safeguarding Governors, and it will also be discussed with staff.
Registration guidance will be given to all regular and supply staff working in the School.
Families will be informed of the Attendance Policy and procedures via the School handbooks / website, the School induction process, and by newsletters.
The School will keep attendance records on file for a minimum period of three years.
This policy is subject to review on an annual basis. However, it may require earlier revision in the light of any regulatory change which may come into force in the interim.
Last reviewed by ARH, GSM & LH: March 2019 (amended September 2019)
Approved by Safeguarding Governors (BAMW, NB): March 2019 (amended September 2019)
Approved by Principal (JWz) & Chair of Governors (JB): 21st November 2019
Next review: July 2020