At Heronsgate Primary School we aim for an environment that enables and encourages all members of the community to reach out for excellence. For our children to gain the greatest benefit from their education it is vital that they attend regularly and your child should be at school, on time, every day the school is open, unless the reason for the absence is unavoidable.

It is very important therefore that you make sure that your child attends regularly and we set out below how together we will achieve this.

Why Regular Attendance is so important

Any absence affects the pattern of a child’s schooling and regular absence will seriously affect their learning. Any pupil’s absence disrupts teaching routines so may affect the learning of others in the same class.

Ensuring your child’s regular attendance at school is your legal responsibility and permitting absence from school without a good reason creates an offence in law and may result in prosecution.

Attendance and Punctuality in the Early Years

At Heronsgate School, we firmly believe that excellent attendance in the Early Years sets the foundations for an outstanding attendance record throughout your child’s school career. Establishing good habits from the start will help your child to settle more quickly in their new setting.

Even at the earliest age, children with poor attendance and punctuality could be at a disadvantage later in life. For example, children may find it harder to make and maintain friendships, may achieve less, or may suffer from poor self-esteem. In addition, coming to school on time every day contributes to your child’s developing self-confidence, and allows them to access crucial learning at the start of each day.

Promoting Excellent Attendance and Punctuality

Helping to create a pattern of regular attendance is everybody’s responsibility – parents, pupils and all members of school staff.

To help us all to focus on this we will:

  • Report to you at least termly on how your child is performing in school, what their attendance and punctuality rate is and how this relates to their attainment
  • Celebrate excellent and improved attendance by displaying class achievements
  • Reward excellent or improving attendance through class certificates and trophies and individual certificates
  • Run promotional events outlining the expectations of attendance and punctuality, so that parents, pupils and staff can work together on raising attendance levels across the school

Understanding Types of Absence

Every half-day absence from school has to be classified by the school (not by the parents), as either AUTHORISED or UNAUTHORISED. This is why information about the cause of any absence is always required, preferably in writing.

Authorised absences are mornings or afternoons away from school for a good reason like illness, medical/dental appointments which unavoidably fall in school time, emergencies or other unavoidable cause.

Please note that under no circumstances will children be allowed out of school by themselves during school hours. They must be collected from the school office for any medical appointments.

Unauthorised absences are those that the school does not consider reasonable and for which no “leave” has been given. For children over 5, this type of absence can lead to the Royal Borough of Greenwich using sanctions and/or legal proceedings.

This includes:

  • Parents/carers keeping children off school unnecessarily
  • truancy before or during the school day
  • absences which have never been properly explained
  • children who arrive at school too late to get a mark (after 9.30am)
  • shopping, looking after other children or birthdays
  • day trips and holidays in term time which have not been agreed

Whilst any child may be off school because they are ill, sometimes they can be reluctant to attend school. It is never better to cover up their absence or to give in to pressure to excuse them from attending. This gives the child the impression that attendance does not matter and usually makes the situation worse. If you are worried about your child’s reluctance to attend school, please contact an Assistant Head teacher.

Persistent Absenteeism (PA)

A pupil becomes a ‘persistent absentee’ when they miss 10% or more schooling across the school year for whatever reason. Absence at this level is doing considerable damage to any child’s educational prospects and we need parents’ fullest support and co-operation to tackle this.

We monitor all absence thoroughly. Any case that is seen to have reached the PA mark or is at risk of moving towards that mark is given priority and you will be informed of this immediately.

All persistent absentees are tracked and monitored carefully through our attendance system. We also combine this with additional support where absence affects attainment, for example through allocation of a learning mentor, or individual incentive programme. All cases at risk of becoming PA are automatically made known to the Attendance Advisory Officer and some cases can lead to Pre-Court Conferences where a decision may be made to prosecute the parents/carers.

Absence Procedures

If your child is absent you must contact us as soon as possible on the first day of absence by contacting the school office.

If your child is absent we will:

  • Telephone you on the first day of absence if we have not heard from you;
  • Invite you in to discuss the situation with our Assistant Head with responsibility for attendance.
  • Refer the matter to the Attendance Advisory Service Officer at The Royal Borough of Greenwich if attendance drops below 90% and does not improve.

Telephone Numbers

There are times when we need to contact parents about lots of things, including absence, so we need to have your contact numbers at all times. So help us to help you and your child by making sure we always have an up to date number – if we don’t then something important may be missed. There will be regular checks on telephone numbers throughout the year.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich Attendance Advisory Officer

Parents are expected to contact school at an early stage and to work with the staff in resolving any problems together. This is nearly always successful. If difficulties cannot be sorted out in this way, the school may refer the child to the Attendance Advisory Service Officer from the Royal Borough of Greenwich. He/she will also try to resolve the situation by agreement but, if other ways of trying to improve your child’s attendance have failed and unauthorised absences persist, these Officers can use sanctions such as Penalty Notices or prosecutions in the Magistrates Court.

Parents or carers may wish to contact the AAO themselves to ask for help or information. They are independent of the school and will give impartial advice. Their telephone number is available from the school office or by contacting the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Poor punctuality is not acceptable. If your child misses the start of the day they can miss learning and do not spend time with their class teacher getting vital information and news for the day. Pupils arriving late also disrupt lessons, may feel embarrassed, which can have the effect of encouraging absence.

How we manage lateness

The school day starts at 8.50am and we expect your child to be in class at that time. Registers are marked by 9.05am and your son or daughter will receive a late mark if they are not in by that time. In accordance with Regulations, if your son or daughter arrives after 9.30am they will receive a mark that shows them to be on site, but this will not count as a present mark and it will mean they have an unauthorised absence. This means that you could face the possibility of a Penalty Notice if the problem persists.

If your child has a persistent late record you will be asked to meet with the Assistant Head teacher and/or Attendance Officer to resolve the problem. Please approach us at any time if you are having problems getting your child to school on time.

Leave of Absence in Term Time

We are prohibited from authorising any leave during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Taking leave of absence in term time will affect your child’s schooling as much as any other absence and we expect parents to help us by not taking children away in school time.
Remember that any savings you think you may make by taking a holiday in school time are offset by the cost to your child’s education. Because of the damage to your child’s learning caused by this, we do not authorise any holidays in term time. There is no automatic entitlement in law to time off in school time to go on holiday.

Applications for leave due to exceptional circumstances must be made in advance on the form obtainable from the school office, substantial evidence must be provided to support the request and only when the Leadership team considers that there are exceptional circumstances relating to the application. Any leave of absence that is authorised for exceptional circumstances will be for no longer than a week.

Any period of leave taken without the agreement of the school, or in excess of that agreed, will be classed as unauthorised and may attract sanctions such as a Penalty Notice.

The minimum level of attendance for Heronsgate School is 97% attendance and we will keep you updated regularly about progress to this level and how your child’s attendance compares.

Through the school year we monitor absences and punctuality to show us where improvements need to be made.

Information on any projects or initiatives that will focus on these areas will be provided in our termly newsletter and we ask for your full support in achieving our targets.