As we approach the end of the school year, some information to share regarding attendance for 2023-24.

It’s a lengthy read, so we’ll start with a summary of the key messages.

Summary

School re-opens to children on Wednesday 6th September

All children are expected to attend

The DfE are directing schools to look closely at children who miss the early days of the year

Three days absence, authorised or unauthorised, in Autumn triggers designation, by the DfE rules, of a pupil as a Persistent Absentee

We cannot authorise holidays or other extended absence in term time. This includes requests to deal with family emergencies abroad. Dealing with these is not the responsibility of children. We can authorise for the day of a funeral and immediate travelling time either side of that, which must be kept to the bare minimum.

The 4th day of unauthorised absence will trigger a FIxed Penalty Notice

Repeated Fixed Penalty Notices may lead to prosecution under section 444 of the Education Act.

We have witnessed a concerning rise in the number of Persistent Absentees (that is children with attendance < 90%) this year

Our attendance for this year, currently 94%, is not meeting Government minimum expectations (>96%)

We also have a lot of children with exceptional attendance, some showing great resilience in very challenging circumstances

Where a child is designated a Severe Persistent Absentee for this year (<85%) a letter will be sent out informing parents/carers that we will no longer routinely authorise illness absence without evidence. This will not apply to children with a diagnosed underlying mitigating condition.

Firstly, the school year starts for children on Wednesday the 6th of September. All are expect to attend on this date. The first week of school is crucial for settling into new routines. The Department for Education have recently been investigating the impact of missing the early days of a school year and there is a clear link between missing these and continued attendance concerns throoughout the year.

It is also worth remembering that missing three days in the Autumn term triggers a child being labelled a Persistent Absentee, by the DfE not us, for the entire term.

There has been a sharp rise in Persistent Absentees in our school this year, rising from under 8% to over 15% of the children. We have been directed to take action to reduce this.

Some children are in the DfE category of Severe Persistent Absentee (SPA) with attendance below 85%. Parents/carers of SPA’s wihout a known underlying mitigating condition, will be sent a letter in September explaining that we will no longer routinely authorise illness absence without evidence.

We recognise that many children have good attendance, over 96%, some exceptional. There are children currently in Years 5 and 6 who have had fewer than 5 days off in total over 7 years, including through a global pandemic!

We recognise that we have children with underlying diagnosed health conditions that makes attendance a challenge and we are sympathetic to this. Many of these children and their families make a great effort and show remarkable resilience.

We will not be authorising holidays or extended leave in term time. This is the law. We cannot authorised extended leave abroad for whatever reason. The only absence we can authorise to travel abroad for a family emergency is for the day of a funeral and the immedaite travelling days either side of that,

Where absence is unauthorised, Fixed Penalty Notices are issued by Notts County Council. The trigger for this is over three days. A 4th unauthorised day will trigger a FPN. This is the Nottinghamshre Common Attendance Protocol, not our own policy

An FPN cannot be appealed. An FPN is an option to bypass legal proceedings. To challenge an FPN, it is necessary to go to court to contest the circumstances of it being issued. The permissible mitigating circumstances that a court will consider are very limited.:

FPNs are expected to be one-offs, a deterrent. Where it is necessary to issue a second FPN, Nottinghamshire County Council will be asked to consider whether or not the FPN is working as a deterrent and for prosecution under Section 444 of the Education Act to be instigated on the grounds that parents are not meeting their legal responsbility to ensure regular attendance. Regular is defined as being “present on every day the school expects them to be.”

There are 2 offences:

1. Section 444(1) Education Act 1996 – If the child is absent without authorisation then the parent is guilty of an offence. This is a strict liability offence i.e. all that needs to be shown is a lack of regular attendance. Sanctions can include a fine of up to £1,000.

2. Section 444(1A) Education Act 1996 – an aggravated offence. If the child is absent without authorisation and the parent knew about the child’s absence and failed to act then the parent is guilty of an offence. Sanctions can include a fine of up to £2,500 and a prison sentence of up to 3 months.