First Federation Trust
Absence Request Form
If your child needs to be away from school, for any reason, please complete an absence request form (L5) or bring in a copy of the medical appointment letter/card. All holiday requests for children are unauthorised, unless there are exceptional circumstances and any absence over 10 sessions (5 days) are reported to Devon County Council in accordance with Government guidelines, which may result in a penalty notice.
We always strive for high attendance at Gatehouse Primary Academy and work closely with the Education Welfare officer to raise children's attendance. Please be advised that 6 missed sessions per half term (3 days) would put a child in a persistent absence category and the Education Welfare Officer may become involved.
We are sure you will appreciate that good attendance in school correlates to the educational achievements of children. Official research by the DfE shows, in general, the higher the percentage of sessions missed across the Key Stage, the lower the likely level of attainment at the end of Key Stage 2. In particular, pupils with no absence are 1.6 times more likely to achieve Age Related Expectations or above, and 4.7 times more likely to achieve above Age Related Expectations than pupils that missed 15-20% of all sessions.
Penalties for unauthorised absence
No parent will be penalised for following official public health advice for their child not to attend school, in accordance with the latest guidance from the Department for Education. Amendments have been made to the 2007 penalty notices regulations in the Education (Penalty Notices) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, which also came into force on 1 September 2013. Pupil Attendance Policy Page 2 The amendments reduce the timescales for paying the fines for unauthorised absence. From September 2013, parents must pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days It is Devon County Council policy to issue Penalty Notices or fines for unauthorised absence. The general criteria for the issuing of a Penalty Notice states that a Penalty Notice will only be issued to a parent(s) if the pupil has at least ten, half day unauthorised absences recorded against their name within the previous six months. Further information can be obtained from the following link: https://new.devon.gov.uk/educationandfamilies/school-information/school-attendance Unauthorised absences may well result in the instigation of parental responsibility measures which could be a penalty notice, or a fine of up to £2,500 and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 3 months. These Penalty Notices can be issued for unauthorised holidays within term time and unauthorised absence from school when the circumstances appear to have been avoidable, (e.g. child too tired after a late night, a birthday treat, family friends/relatives visiting). Should a child meet the Devon’s Penalty Notice Code of Conduct criteria, the school will notify the Penalty Notice Officer by completing a form L1 ‘Notification to Devon County Council’ and a ‘Certificate of School Attendance’ for the child. A parent must complete an Absence Request Form (for exceptional circumstances) from the school office or school website when asking for absence to be authorised. The School will always put the education of the child first when deciding whether or not to authorise an absence. In doing so, the school will also take into account the child’s age, stage of education, internal assessment weeks and educational progress when making a decision. It is not the school’s decision to fine parents for unauthorised absences, but is at the discretion of Devon’s Educational Welfare Service.
The First Federation has agreed that Exceptional Circumstances is when the circumstances leading to a request of leave of absence are being of unique and significant emotional, educational or spiritual value to the child which outweighs the loss of teaching time. Also in certain circumstances a parent/carer’s employer might restrict annual leave to a certain time period. In these circumstances the Head of School will ask for a written confirmation from the employer. For both the examples above the Head of Teaching & Learning / Link Director will also look very carefully at the child’s previous attendance record and should he have concerns, for example should the child’s average attendance be below 96%, it is highly unlikely that the Head of School / Link Director will authorise any further absence.
Holidays and Avoidable Absences in Term Time -
Letter from Mrs Naldrett - Head of School
We believe that in order for a pupil to fully benefit from their education, good attendance is crucial. It is the policy of our school to celebrate achievement and full attendance is a critical factor to a productive and successful school career.
As of September 2013, an amendment to the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 came in to force and greater clarity was introduced to the issue of schools authorising absence requests. These changes reinforced the Government’s view that every minute of every school day is vital and that pupils should only be granted authorised absences by the school in ‘exceptional circumstances’. A family holiday is not normally considered by the Government to be an ‘exceptional circumstances’ and therefore will not be authorised by this school.
I must take this opportunity to remind you, that should you choose to take your child out of school without the authorisation of the school, then Parental Responsibility Measures could be instigated. This could mean receiving any of the following;
A penalty Notice (assuming one has not been issued in the past 2 years),
A summons to the Magistrate Court which could result in a fine of up to £2,500.00 and/or a term of imprisonment for up to 3 months Schools are required to notify the Local Authority if a pupil has a number of unauthorised absences.
Unauthorised absences can be acquired when;
1. Leave has been requested, but the circumstances are such that the school is unable to authorised the leave and it is taken anyway.
2. Leave is not requested and/or the school has grounds to believe that the child has been taken out of school for an avoidable reason (example – a family holiday). Only the Head of School can authorise an absence. This year there have been occasions when schools have been notified that the pupil is sick, but the school later discovers and reasonably believes that the reason given for the absence is not genuine.
3. A child continually arrives late after the registration period has closed. The school will be notifying the Local Authority in all of the circumstances listed above. Should a Penalty Notice be issued as a result of unauthorised absence then one notice will be issued to each parent/carer for each child involved. Currently, each Penalty Notice is for £120.00, which is reduced to £60.00 if paid within the first 21 days. If a Penalty Notice has been issued within the past 2 years then the Local Authority will proceed straight to Court.
We understand the disappointment that the refusal of a leave request may cause but as you can appreciate this policy represents the school’s responsibility and commitment towards ensuring your child’s education and their future life opportunities. We hope you will support your child’s education by ensuring your son/daughter obtains the maximum benefit from their time at school by attending punctually for the 190 days each year that the law requires (unless prevented from doing so by an unavoidable circumstances).
Head of School