Attendance (information taken from the Attendance Policy)
At Knebworth School, we take the issue of attendance very seriously and do all we can to obtain very high attendance from all our children. Regular attendance at school is vital. It is a legal requirement that children of compulsory school age receive full-time education and this, with the exception of those educated at home or elsewhere, means regular attendance at school.
Irregular attendance and or lateness lead to missed learning and as such the learning process becomes fragmented and unsatisfactory and children are at risk of not fulfilling their true potential. Additionally, it disrupts teaching routines and so may affect the learning of others in the same class. Ensuring a child’s regular attendance at school is a parental responsibility and permitting absence from school without an exceptional reason creates an offence in law and may result in prosecution.
What is an acceptable attendance rate?
National data clearly shows a correlation between high attendance rates and high examination performance. It is a key indicator of an effective school and, as such, will be scrutinised by OFSTED. The vast majority of our children achieve over 95% attendance and this is what we expect from all of our children regardless of age as a minimum. One indicator of concerning attendance is broken weeks. Regular broken weeks are a cause for concern and will be followed up by the school. To ensure our records are accurate, we may ask for medical evidence.
Every half-day absence from school has to be classified by the school as either AUTHORISED or UNAUTHORISED. This is why information about the cause of any absence is always required. The decision to authorise or not authorise an absence lies solely with the school.
The School cannot legally authorise any leave of absence unless there are exceptional circumstances. The Department for Education (DfE) has issued guidelines to all schools detailing valid reasons for authorised or justified absences:
(i) a child is ill or receiving medical attention (routine medical and dental appointments should be arranged out of school hours wherever possible)
(ii) days of religious observance, notified in advance
(iii) absence due to family circumstances (e.g. bereavement, serious illness)
There are other absences, such as approved sporting activities that can be authorised and there will be events affecting families, some unforeseen, which will necessitate absence from school; professional discretion will be used in these cases to determine whether the absence can be authorised. We may ask for evidence at any time to support the reasons provided for any absences.
These are absences where:
• no letter or acceptable explanation/evidence is provided by parent(s)/carers;
• the reason for the absence is not deemed by the school to fall into one of the categories of authorised absence.
We strongly discourage holidays being taken in term time as learning is disrupted and the lost time is detrimental to the educational progress of the child. In line with other schools, we ask parents who feel it is absolutely unavoidable that they take their annual holiday (or any other proposed special occasions) during term time to notify the school, using the ‘Absence Request Form’ (available below or from the school office), at least four weeks in advance of the proposed date, explaining the circumstances. It would be very rare to authorise a holiday during term time. The DfE guidelines clearly state that, in the final analysis, it is the school that judges whether an absence is authorised or not. Amendments to the 2006 regulations remove references to family holidays and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of 10 school days. These amendments make it clear that Head Teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. It is for the Head Teacher to determine what constitutes exceptional circumstances and for them to determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if the leave is granted.