“There is a strong link between attendance rates and examination success. Research shows that missing 17 days of school a year (an attendance rate of 91%) can result in a drop of a GCSE grade across all subjects. In the workplace unauthorised absences would not be accepted and we need to help our children and young people to prepare for the workplace”
"The statistical link between attendance and attainment is strong. In Wales in 2014, over 92% of pupils with NO absence attained the expected level 4 in English, mathematics and science at the end of key stage 2. For pupils with attendance between 80 – 90%, this figure drops notably to 77% of pupils. Based on the statutory number of 190 school days per year, a pupil with 90% attendance will miss 19 days of schooling each year. Between entering primary school in the reception class to the end of primary education in Year 6, a pupil with an average attendance of 90% will miss 133 full days of school. This is well over half a year of learning."
Non-attendance is an important issue that is treated seriously. However, every case is different and we will always try to support families to improve the situation. The Pontarddulais Comprehensive Cluster Attendance Framework is designed to help teachers, parents and pupils understand their rights, responsibilities and roles when it comes to school attendance. By working in partnership, it is our hope that every pupil achieves at least over 96%, whilst our expectation is that our pupils will be in school 100% of the time.
The purpose of this framework is to:
give attendance and punctuality a high priority;
clearly define roles and responsibilities to ensure consistency and rigour;
provide support, advice and guidance to families;
use attendance data systematically to evaluate success;
use rewards to celebrate good attendance;
use sanctions sensitively and only when necessary;
work in partnership with the Education Welfare Service to improve attendance;
support pupils returning to school after significant periods of absence.
Commitments (rights, responsibilities and roles)
The Pontarddulais Comprehensive Cluster Attendance Framework has its basis in Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). We believe that all young people have the right to education, based on equality of opportunity, and that the school, in partnership with parents and other parties, must take measures to encourage regular school attendance and reduce rates of absenteeism.
All schools within the Pontarddulais Cluster are required under The Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010, to take attendance registers twice a day; at the start of the morning session and once during the afternoon session.
Parents are required under section 7 of the Education Act 1996, to ensure that their child receives efficient full-time education.
The Pontarddulais Cluster Attendance Framework is written to ensure compliance with statutory requirements.
All schools within the Pontarddulais Cluster will work in partnership with young people, parents and families so that pupils can benefit from the educational opportunities provided to them at school.
Key members of staff within each school include:
School Attendance Leads
Lead SLT from each of the Primary Schools and the Comprehensive School
Interplay with Other Guidance
This framework is to be interpreted in accordance with Welsh Government Guidance and Codes of Practice that may be issued from time to time. It is acknowledged that new guidance may be issued by Welsh Government after the adoption of this policy.
It is expected that this policy will be interpreted in light of any subsequent formal guidance from Welsh Government. Should any subsequent guidance significantly change the operation of any aspect of this policy the Headteacher acting in conjunction with the Chair of Governors shall publish as soon as is practicable on the school website any temporary arrangements pending the policy being reviewed by the Governing Body. It is expected that only those sections affected by any subsequent guidance will require temporary arrangements and that the remainder of the policy shall remain in force until formal review.
Should the Local Authority change its Code of Practice relating to fixed penalty notices the same procedure applies as in the case of subsequent Welsh Government Guidance affecting any part of this policy. School staff and parents are able to view the current Code of Conduct arrangements on the City and County of Swansea public website.
Pontarddulais Cluster Attendance Framework
To ensure accuracy and consistency, all pupils’ attendance marks are registered electronically via the Capita School Information Management System (SIMS).
Pupils are registered at the beginning of the morning and afternoon session.
Teachers are required to record present or absent against each pupil’s name. Absence marks must be followed up with the appropriate code being added once the reason for absence has been ascertained (see below).
The individual schools, upon investigating incidents of absence, use the following codes as set out by the Welsh Government Guidance on School Attendance Codes 2010:
2. Absence, lateness and medical appointments
Parents are asked to contact the school by telephone by 9.30am at the beginning of the first day of their child’s absence. Individual schools monitor telephone calls each morning.
Should a pupil be absent from school without explanation, the individual school will follow its own procedures for contacting home (telephone, text, etc) where a request will be sent to parents asking them to make contact with the school both as a safeguarding precaution and also to allow parents to indicate the reason for absence and provide an indication of when their child will be able to return to school.
Unless an indication in terms of length of time, is given, parents are expected to inform the school at the beginning of each subsequent day of absence unless other arrangements have been mutually agreed.
Schools within the Pontarddulais Comprehensive Cluster may operate a ‘late at the gate’ scheme in an attempt to discourage lateness and identify pupils who are persistently late for school.
The school has the right to include lateness within the framework of their Behaviour Management Policy (BMP).
Lateness, especially if persistent should be treated in the same way as irregular attendance.
Parents can be prosecuted if the issue of persistent lateness is not resolved.
Lateness can be as damaging to a pupil's educational career as persistent absence can impact upon learning.
If a child arrives late to school, pupils / parents must ensure that they sign in to a ‘late book’ contained in the main foyer/office of the Primary schools and Room 8 in the Comprehensive school, stating a reason for being late.
If pupils are required to leave school within the day, the parent/ guardian must come to the main foyer / office in the Primary schools to ‘sign out’ the pupil and give a reason for leaving early.
Comprehensive pupils may sign themselves out at Room 8, giving a valid reason for leaving early.
Whenever possible medical appointments should be booked outside of the school day.
If appointments are not possible outside of the school day, then proof of the appointment will be required and pupils should return to school afterwards unless there is a valid medical reason given.
Where an absence is authorised, the school will use the appropriate code to record the absence.
If a pupil is feeling unwell during the school day, at this point, a decision will be made as to whether the pupil should be sent home or not.
3. Authorisation of absence (including holidays)
Absences may only be approved by authorised representatives of the school within the Pontarddulais Comprehensive Cluster.
Schools will exercise caution in the authorisation of absence and parents must seek to provide the school with a full picture of the reasons and in some circumstances documentary evidence relating to their child’s absence.
The Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010 states that all absences are to be treated as unauthorised until schools have agreed that a satisfactory explanation has been given which should normally be within one day.
If a reason is accepted it needs to be recorded on the SIMs system using the correct code.
The Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010 give schools discretionary power to grant leave for the purpose of a family holiday during term time.
Parents do not have an automatic right to withdraw their child from school for a holiday and, in law, have to apply for permission from the school in advance. Schools within the Pontarddulais Comprehensive Cluster will only authorise family holidays at the head teacher’s discretion where parents are able to demonstrate that the individual circumstances warrant it being authorised.
We, in Pontarddulais Comprehensive School Cluster are very clear about the effect of term time holiday absence on student attainment performance and progress as they will be at a severe disadvantage compared to their peers.
The Social Worker and not the Foster Carer would ordinarily make requests for leave of absence for Children who are Looked After; if such a request is received, the school should liaise with the social worker and the Local Authority LAC team. It is noted however that Social Services in appropriate cases are moving towards a system of delegating more parental responsibility and day to day decision making to foster carers. This scheme of delegation is designed to ensure a LAC child can have a more normal family experience rather than having all decisions delayed and passed via social services. The school will accept a request from a foster carer upon production of a delegation form signed by social services.
When assessing requests for a holiday, the Headteacher will consider:
The age of the child
The time of year of the proposed trip;
The length and purpose of the time off;
Any impact on continuity of learning;
Overall attendance pattern;
The stage of education
The child’s progress
Any guidance issued by Welsh Government
The circumstances of the family
The wishes and views of the parents; and
The purpose of the holiday
The above list is not exhaustive and the Headteacher is entitled to take into account other factors which they feel to be relevant to the exercise of their discretion. Parents are expected to be clear at the time of making their request the family circumstances, purpose of the trip and any views they have.
Should the holiday take the total absence due to holidays for the year to being over 10 days then only in exceptional circumstances should this holiday be granted.
The test of exceptional circumstances applies only to holidays which accumulate over the course of the year to more than 10 days.
Holidays which accumulate to 10 days or less throughout the year need to be considered in accordance with paragraph 3.3 above.
The cluster has set 96% attendance as a minimum target for all pupils.
The fundamental principle underlying this policy is that schools are open for 190 days a year. Children and families have 175 days off school to spend time together, including weekends and school holidays. Parents are to be actively encouraged to take time off and book holidays outside of term time as it is only with parental cooperation will it be possible to achieve and maintain a high level of attendance and attainment.
If an event can reasonably be scheduled outside of term time, it would be normal for the Headteacher to closely scrutinise the individual circumstances of the request if it relates to a term time absence.
Parents should not expect and head teachers should not assume that because a term time absence is agreed one year that it will be authorised the next. As children become older and progress through the stages of education there will inevitably be different circumstances applicable as they will be learning new topics and studying for a different key stage. Likewise, it should also not be assumed that if there is an extended family / friends holiday where the children attend different schools that if the term time absence is agreed in one school that the other school will also agree the absence. The exercise of discretion lies solely with the individual Headteacher of any particular school and the circumstances and attendance records of individual children will inevitably differ.
Head teachers also have the discretion to authorise only part of a term time absence. If the request is for a 10 day term time absence the head teacher can authorise 5 days and inform the parent that any days taken beyond the 5 days will be unauthorised.
It will be good practice that our schools within the cluster periodically discusses on an anonymous basis the cases whereby the discretion has been exercised to authorise a term time absence and when it has been refused. Whilst the discretion to authorise term time absences ultimately lies with individual head teachers it would be helpful to discuss with other head teachers your approach to try and work towards achieving greater consistency across the cluster. Care should be taken when seeking consistency not to develop rigid rules or blanket approaches to absences and the head teacher must always have in mind that each request must be considered in light of its individual circumstances.
For non-holiday related requests for absence the Headteacher should consider the Welsh Government School Attendance Codes Guidance 2010.
4. Early Intervention
Llangyfelach Primary School recognises the important role that parents play in promoting good school attendance. The school therefore seeks to provide professional, quality information and advice, communicated frequently by text message, social media, leaflets, parents’ evenings, school reports and the school website.
When a pupil has been absent for an extended period, they are welcomed positively on their return. Where possible work will be provided to ensure that the pupil can keep as up to date as possible with the curriculum.
The EWO, in conjunction with all the schools in the cluster, will ensure that attendance and punctuality is given a high priority throughout the duration of pupils’ compulsory education.
There are a range of initiatives and rewards that can be utilised across Swansea schools and some examples include:
Point systems – pupils gain points/raffle ticket for attendance and punctuality and then get a prize for achieving the most but also for making the best effort.
Certificates- for attendance ,punctuality, best achievement, most improved attendance etc
Head teachers and school staff are encouraged to try new strategies and continually seek to try and promote positive attendance.
Hierarchy of Sanctions
Schools within the Pontarddulais Comprehensive Cluster always seek to resolve matters of poor attendance through effective partnership working with parents. On the rare occasion that the school is unable to elicit from parents the support deemed necessary to ensure pupils attend school, sanctions may be used. In the first instance, parents may receive letters which:
Request reasons for their child’s absence;
Request medical evidence for their child’s absence;
Express concern about their child’s absence and offer advice and support;
Advise them about their child’s lateness and ask for their support in getting their child to school on time;
Advise them that the school has taken the decision not to authorise an absence and the consequences of this in relation to penalty notices and involvement of EWS.;
Advise them of their legal responsibilities to ensure their child attends school regularly;
Advise them that they are at risk of receiving a Fixed Penalty Notice;
Advise them that a referral has been made to the Educational Welfare Service.
In some circumstances following warning letters, the school may seek further advice and recommendation from EWS or request that the EWS issue parents/carers with a Fixed Penalty Notice under The Education (Penalty Notices) (Wales) Regulations 2013. The school should warn a parent when their child’s attendance is approaching the criteria for a fixed penalty notice. Once the criteria is met for a fixed penalty notice the Headteacher should consider whether a warning is sufficient or contact should be made with the EWS to discuss issuing a fixed penalty notice or prosecuting the parent for failing to secure regular attendance.
The criteria for issuing a fixed penalty notice is set by the Local Authority. As the criteria may be reviewed or updated the school should always ensure they are working with the most up to date version of any code of conduct. The code of conduct can be located on the City and County of Swansea website.
The criterion for considering a fixed penalty notice is currently as follows:
when a pupil has a minimum of 10 sessions (five school days) that have been lost due to unauthorised absences during the current term and this brings the pupils overall pupil attendance to below 90% in the school year to date (these absences do not have to be consecutive);
unauthorised absences of at least 10 sessions (5 school days) due to holidays in term-time if the absences take the pupils overall school attendance to below 90% in the school year to date (these absences do not have to be consecutive);
persistent late arrival at school i.e. after the register has closed ( ‘U’ code as in the Codes Guidance Document 2010). Persistent for the purpose of this document means at least 10 sessions of late arrival within a term; these do not need to be consecutive but should bring the pupils overall school attendance to under 90% in the school year to date;
Should the Local Authority alter the criteria for issuing a fixed penalty notice the newly published code of conduct will take precedence over the criteria set out in this paragraph. The school should be sure to ensure that parents are made aware of any changes made to the code of conduct via their school website or newsletters and the school should as soon as is reasonably practicable revise this policy to reflect the new criteria.
When the school feels that, despite its best efforts to support the family, attendance is not improving, a referral will be made to the Education Welfare Service. A referral might be made when, for example:
A pattern of irregular unauthorised attendance has developed;
A period of non-attendance has become established with the pupil attendance dropping to below 90% with unauthorised absences.
There is a lack of parental cooperation in ensuring a child’s regular attendance; or
A pattern of truancy is persisting.
Schools within the Pontarddulais Comprehensive Cluster will liaise with the Education Welfare Service to provide the evidence required to prosecute parents who fail, without reasonable justification, to cause their child to attend school regularly, under sections 444(1) and 444(1A) of the Education Act 1996.
Before considering whether to make a referral to the local authority, action should be taken by the school to improve a pupils’ attendance and investigate and address any underlying cause of problems.
5. Monitoring and evaluation
The SLT and EWO are responsible for maintaining accurate attendance records through SIMS for each pupil.
The EWO meets regularly with every school in the cluster to discuss individual cases of absenteeism, truancy or lateness and reflect upon the effectiveness of interventions to date. Decisions are taken at this time as to whether individual cases meet the criteria for referral to the Educational Welfare Service. As a result of the EWO's overview of the whole cluster, the EWO will strive to promote consistency when working with a family that might have children in more than one cluster school.
The appropriate member of staff in each school will meet with the Educational Welfare Officer as required to review cases and seek support. The Educational Welfare Officer is responsible for contributing to the Pontarddulais Comprehensive Cluster’s drive for school effectiveness through providing advice on proven good practice and promoting attendance.
Attendance data is reviewed at the end of the academic year by the Senior Leadership Teams of the Pontarddulais Comprehensive cluster schools and is used to populate the Self-Evaluation document and inform the School Improvement Plan.
The school and EWO should make use of attendance data to try and identify trends or problems and to evaluate the effectiveness of attendance strategies.
List of Appendices
Appendix 1 – Five Step System of Attendance Management
Appendix 2 – Request for absence form
Appendix 3 - LPS Attendance Strategies
This policy will be reviewed when required.