Sickness & Absence
Why missing time at school matters
Often parents are under the impression that missing school for a day or two will be easy for your child to catch-up. However this is not the case. There is no time for teachers to work out which children missed which bits of learning and spend an hour one-to-one catching each child up. This just is not manageable. To do this would mean halting learning for all the other children who were in school that day.
A really good example is phonics: if your child misses just one phonics session then they are missing out on learning that sound. Each sound is taught on a different day of the week, week after week. The opportunity to experience this new learning does not come again. Your child will have missed one of the building blocks for reading and will have to work it out, try to learn it on their own, whilst all their friends already know what that sound is. The adults in class may be able to support if they get stuck, but this is not the same as learning it with all their friends.
Big Maths is another example: Maths lessons at St Joseph’s have two parts to them - the main lesson and a fast-paced CLIC session focusing on revisiting and repeating core maths learning and knowledge. This CLIC session is carefully planned to sequence learning and move what the children learn into their long term memory. By missing out one lesson in this sequence, the children risk future learning being built upon lots of gaps…it is unlikely to make sense and therefore confuse other new learning. These gaps are then very hard to fill, even if resulting from only one missed lesson.
On the signs at the front of school, it states that 95% attendance = 9 days missed = 50 lessons missed. If one missed Maths lesson or one missed phonics session results in notable gaps then imagine what 50 missed lessons would mean for that child. How on earth would they be able to catch up? It is this scale of missed learning that we are so concerned about for the children of St Joseph’s.
Time with friends is also incredibly important. The children make up games to play during break times and it can be upsetting for children to return to school and not know how to play them. This can sometimes result in children not being able to play and join in with their friends, which leads to them feeling isolated and lonely. Life moves on quickly and friendships can be fickle when children are younger. If your child misses repeated days of school then their friends will find other children to play with, who are in school more of the time. That feeling of isolation is horrible. Children don’t always tell adults when things are bothering them and a small issue can build into something much larger and harder to resolve.
We know that lots of parents do not see themselves as the type of parents who let their children miss school for unacceptable or frivolous reasons. The values and information parents use to make judgments about attendance have changed post pandemic.
Many parents worry that illness levels are higher. There is also a feeling amongst some parents that they are more wary of spreading illnesses post pandemic. They are less likely to send their child to school when they are unwell. It now feels less socially acceptable to do so. Some parents feel that schools have become more cautious about keeping a child in school. They perceive that a school is more likely to send a child home if they are ill.
At St Joseph’s we have always tried to walk the line carefully between being too cautious and not being cautious enough. All our families were amazing during the pandemic and helped us to manage infection control really well by keeping ill children at home, no matter how minor the illness. This is no longer the case and we do not need parents to help in this way. We appreciate that this is a total shift in expectations and that we can become entrenched in our mindsets.
Unless your child has a fever or some highly contagious disease then we would like them in school. We will only send children home if they are actually unwell (that we can tell to the best of our ability). Staff will be reminding children of the importance of thorough hand washing to keep germs away. We need your help as part of making sure the children are experiencing the full learning opportunities that St Joseph’s provides.
In accordance with advice from the Health Protection Unit, if your child has been sick or had diarrhoea they should not return to school for a minimum of 48 hours following the last bout of diarrhoea or vomiting. This helps to prevent infections spreading. Thank you.
To report your child's absence please use the free Studybugs app, or register on the Studybugs website. Get the app or register now (https://studybugs.com/about/parents)
Top 3 reasons to use Studybugs
1. It’s integrated with our systems so we know right away if your child is unaccounted for.
2. It’s quick and easy to register and use and automatically reminds you to keep us posted.
3. You’ll be helping the NHS and other public health organisations improve children’s health. (https://studybugs.com/about/schools)
Alternatively, please ring the school office (01926 427552) and chose option 1 to leave a message, by 9.15am at the latest, on each day that your child is absent from school.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE
In September 2013, the Government introduced some significant changes to attendance regulations for pupils at school. The regulations will continue to apply during this academic year (2020-21). The most important of these is in relation to term-time leave of absence. The amendments set out in Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, govern all requests for leave within term time. When considering such requests for a leave of absence, the school are obliged to act within the law.
The amended regulations removed references to ‘holiday’ and ‘extended leave’, as well as the statutory threshold of 10 school days. It is now clear that Headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. If the leave is granted, Headteachers are able to determine the number of school days a child can be absent for. The Government has not defined ‘exceptional circumstances’ as referred to in the 2013 regulations. It is for the Headteacher to decide what he/she views as 'exceptional’ and it is at their discretion if the circumstances warrant the leave to be granted.
Leave of absence which is taken for the following reasons will not be authorised:
• Availability of cheaper holidays
• Availability of desired accommodation
• Poor weather experienced in school holidays
• Overlap with beginning or end of term
• Booked the wrong dates by mistake
• Booked by another family member
• Attending a wedding that is not immediate family
• Family birthdays
• Unable to take a holiday in school holidays due to work commitments
UPDATE following the Supreme Court ruling April 2017
The Supreme Court recently reached a decision in the case of Platt v Isle of Wight Council which has clarified the law on unauthorised leave, including holidays, during term time. The parents of children of compulsory school age are required to ensure that they attend school on a regular basis. The Supreme Court has made clear that attending school ‘regularly’ means that the children must attend school on every day that they are required to do so. As such, the parents of any child who are absent from school without authorisation for any length of time are likely to be considered as committing an offence under s444 of the Education Act 1996.
Head Teachers retain the ability to authorise leave in accordance with the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006. When considering such requests for a leave of absence, the school are obliged to act within the law. Head Teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances relating to the application. If the leave is granted, head teachers are able to determine the number of school days a child can be absent for.
The school can only consider Leave of Absence requests which are made by the ‘resident’ parent. Each application for a leave of absence will be considered on a case by case basis and on its own merits. Where applications for leave of absence are made in advance and refused, the child will be required to be in school on the dates set out in the application. If the child is absent during that period, it will be recorded as an unauthorised absence, which may result in legal action being taken against the parent(s), by way of a Fixed Penalty Notice.
Failure to make an application for leave in advance can also result in a Fixed Penalty Notice being issued to the parent(s).
It is important to note, Fixed Penalty Notices are issued to each parent of each absent child, (for example 2 children and 2 parents, means each parent will receive 2 invoices in the amount of £120 each, totalling £240 for both children, this is reduced to £60 per child if paid within 21 days).
Where a Fixed Penalty Notice is not paid within the required timeframe as set out on the notice, the matter will be referred to Warwickshire County Council’s Legal Services to consider instigating criminal proceedings under S444 Education Act 1996.
Fixed Penalty Notices are issued in accordance with Warwickshire County Council’s Code of Conduct for Penalty Notices.
We greatly appreciate parental support to reduce the total amount of days lost due to holidays. We are committed to working in partnership with you to enable your child to reach their academic targets and to support their social development. For this to happen we need to keep individual attendance as high as possible - we all need to play our part.
Your child’s progress academically as well as socially is our shared priority
THE SCHOOL TARGET THIS YEAR IS 97.2% ATTENDANCE FOR ALL PUPILS