At St Mary’s and St Benedict’s, we firmly believe children should be in class with their teachers and peers in order to have the best possible opportunity to achieve their potential.
All the research shows that children who are in school on time every day have a high level of development, are more likely to attain expected (or greater) attainment, have a greater feeling of wellbeing and are more likely to be successful in their chosen profession as adults.
When can my child be absent from school?
When you register your child at St Mary’s and St Benedict’s, you have a legal duty to ensure your child attends every day unless:
- Your child is too ill to attend that day.
- You have asked in advance and been given permission by school for your child to be absent on that day due to exceptional circumstances.
- Your child cannot attend school on that day because it is a day you are taking part in religious observance
- Your local authority is responsible for arranging your child’s transport to school and it is not available on that day or has not been provided yet; or
These are the only circumstances where schools can permit your child to be absent.
What do I need to do if my child needs to be absent from school for one of those reasons?
You should contact the school office as early as possible to explain why. If not, we will contact you on the first morning of their absence to find out why.
All parents can request a ‘leave of absence’ for their child which gives them permission to be absent from school. Leaves of absence must be applied for before your child will be absent and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
The Headteacher will consider any request after considering the specific facts and circumstances behind your request.
The form you need to complete to request time off school can be found below.
Can I take my child on holiday during term time?
We ask parents to plan their holidays around school breaks and avoid requesting leaves of absence for holidays unless it is unavoidable.
As leave of absence is only granted in exceptional circumstances, it is highly unlikely that the Headteacher will agree a leave of absence for a family holiday.
If permission is refused and you keep your child off school on the days requested, you are likely to be committing an offence and could be issued a fixed penalty notice or be prosecuted by your local authority.
Where can I get support to help my child attend school?
Children may struggle to attend school for a wide range of reasons. If your child is struggling to attend, we will work with you and the local authority to help you to support your child’s attendance.
If your child’s attendance level is falling, we will contact you to explore the reasons and discuss what help can be put in place to help you overcome the barriers they are facing.
If your child is struggling to attend school, we will organise a meeting with you to discuss and understand the reasons for any absence and what support you or your child needs to overcome the barriers to attendance they are experiencing.
If the barriers to your child’s attendance are in school – such as they are having friendship problems – we will work with you to help overcome the issues.
As part of any conversation we have, a set of joint actions will be agreed to help overcome any barriers to attendance.
This agreement will often include a commitment to refer or help you to access support services in exchange for an agreement from you to engage and take part in the support offered. They will also arrange mutual convenient times for you to come together to review these and your child’s progress.
This agreement may take the form of an informal action plan, an early help plan, or a parenting contract – depending on the complexity of the reasons for your child’s absence.
Who should I contact if my child is going to be off school?
If your child is off school for any reason, your first point of contact should be the school office. They will record any absences on SIMS (the school attendance record).
SIMS will be checked every week by Mrs Howarth (Attendance Lead) who will discuss any absences with Mr Ballard (Headteacher) and Mrs Johnson (Family Support Worker).
Together, they will agree on a course of action to try and improve attendance. As you can see from the attached documents, this might involve actions such as a letter home, a discussion via telephone or a supportive meeting in school.