Attendance & Absences from School
We know that good attendance at school is vital for effective learning and future success in school.
We aim to offer welcoming, nurturing, and supportive environments to enable all students to learn and be successful but there is a strong reliance on positive relationships with you. We always look forward to celebrating the positives, but we are also here to ensure supportive, early action can be taken if concerns arise. We encourage you to work with us to help address any attendance concerns.
The September 2022 Department for Education Attendance Guidance remains non-statutory, but with an expectation that all schools and academies follow it. At Oakley, we have welcomed the emphasis it placed on parents, local authorities, other agencies, and schools/academies to work collaboratively together to support students’ education and wellbeing. It also gave some useful key messages to remember:
- Attendance affects, and is affected by, all parts of a child’s life, it should not be viewed in isolation, and whole family plans are crucial to supporting children and families.
- Unless a child is accessing high-quality education outside of a school environment, attending school regularly is important for learning and is the law.
- Schools are expected to promote attendance and explore all absence (authorised and unauthorised) if it falls below 96% to support students and families to prevent further absence.
- Where a child is enrolled in a school they must attend regularly and although legal action is a last resort, it will be considered if the support to improve attendance is not engaged with.
- Parents are required to ensure their child receives full time education under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996. Legal Action for failing to do so is used under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 and/or Section 23 of Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 for Penalty Notices (fines).
Additionally, the updated 2023 Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE) statutory Guidance for
safeguarding in schools reinforces that:
- absence from school, particularly repeatedly
- absence from school that is for prolonged periods and,
- children missing education
can act as a vital warning sign of a range of safeguarding possibilities which may require early intervention.
How do we do all the above?
At Oakley, we follow a relational approach to attendance with processes that aim to ‘support a child to attend’. We do this by trying to remove barriers to attend school (see below summary diagram). This involves lots of conversations which you may have already noticed. We welcome you to take the lead on starting these conversations at any point.
This proactive early action approach aims to ensure children and families feel listened to and supported. We endeavour to make sure the support offered for your family/child works to improve overall wellbeing and maximise school attendance and/or access education. Please refer to ‘Actions Overview’ below for more detailed information.
All Meridian Trust Academies have a duty to use legal sanctions when appropriate for unauthorised absence which is why working together is so important. The above approach helps to prevent unauthorised absence occurring meaning it is less likely that enforcement discussions or legal action is required later. This course of action is something we are keen to avoid.
Unfortunately, we are sometimes unable to prevent the use of legal sanctions if agreed actions or support that has been put in place does not lead to an improvement in attendance.
We discourage absence during term time which is demonstrated in our Attendance Policy (link below). As in other Meridian schools, the Headteacher must only approve absence for ‘exceptional circumstances’ and if a request is received in advance.
What can you do to help?
Plan family trips, holidays, or events outside of term time and where possible arrange appointments to avoid absence. Help your child to think and feel as positively as possible about school to reinforce the importance of learning and being with their friends. Talk openly about school and any worries they have, to build self-awareness and boost their confidence to know it is normal to be worried about things, but that we can help ourselves by sharing those worries with others.
Where needed, please discuss any concerns that arise as soon as possible with a member of staff at your child’s academy. You can also find helpful information on our trust website: Attendance - Meridian Trust
If your child is absent from school due to illness, please ring the school office to inform us of the reason. We ask parents to avoid appointments during the school day whenever possible. If this is unavoidable please provide us details in writing.
A parent has no legal right to take their child out of school. If a parent/ carer wishes do this they must apply to the school for permission in advance. Permission will only be given if the school is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances to justify any absence from school. Permission cannot be given after the event.
The law changed in September 2013, and schools can no longer give permission for holidays during term time unless exceptional circumstances can be shown. The occasions where permission will be given for holidays during term time will therefore be very limited. The schools will confirm the outcome of the request in writing and if permission is granted, the letter will state the number of days for which the student is allowed to be absent.
For any other absences please complete a Leave of Absence Request Form.
Guidance on Covid-19 – 2023/24
Since March 2022, there have no longer been specific rules relating to Covid-19 in schools, colleges, childcare and other education settings.
Schools have been advised to treat Covid-19 like other respiratory infections such as flu and should still be encouraging their pupils to follow basic hygiene precautions.
The full guidance is available here on the Department for Education website.
To help to refer to, here are some common questions and answers.
What are the symptoms of Covid-19?
- High Temperature
- Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- Shortness of breath
- Aching body
- Sore throat
- Blocked or runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sick or being sick
- New continuous cough
The symptoms of Covid-19 are similar to illnesses such as influenza and norovirus, and it can be hard to distinguish the differences between these.
Can a child go to school if they have Covid-19 or Covid-19 symptoms?
No, a child shouldn’t attend school with Covid-19 or Covid-19 symptoms. Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature or who have tested positive for Covid-19 are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for three days. The day of the test being day 0.
After three days if they feel well and don’t have a temperature they can return to school. If they are still unwell they should wait until they feel better and their temperature has returned to normal.
What happens if a teacher or staff member gets Covid-19?
Teachers are advised to follow the standard guidelines for adults and stay at home and avoid contact for at least five days. The day the test is taken will be counted as day 0. Schools don’t have to inform parents of Covid cases.
Does a child still need to be tested for Covid-19 if they show symptoms?
No, they don’t. Free tests are now only offered to people at risk of developing serious illness from Covid-19. This applies to adults and children. It is not recommended that children and young people are tested for Covid-19 unless directed to by a health professional.
If a parent or carer tests positive for Covid-19, can the child go to school?
Yes, the child can and should. It is only the person who has Covid-19 who is advised to stay at home, not their children or other family members.
What measures are schools still taking to prevent the spread of Covid-19?
The best protection is vaccination and all eligible pupils are encouraged to take up vaccination programmes for Covid-19 and flu. Masks are no longer recommended in schools, but the following hygiene measures are still in place:
- encouraging basic hygiene measures such as regular hand washing and cleaning
- encouraging children to cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing
- ensuring that spaces are well-ventilated and that fresh air is let in regularly
Again, to remind you, this and other guidance is available on the Department for Education website.
Any major change to the guidance from the Department for Education will be issued by the school to its community.
Updated: October 2023