Student Attendance and Absence

At Unity City Academy excellent attendance and punctuality is our aim for every student. Full attendance maximises learning opportunities and parents/carers have a vital role in promoting good attitudes in attendance. We ask for support from parents/carers to ensure that their children are present at every opportunity, arrive on time and to avoid allowing children to stay at home unnecessarily, or taking them out of school without authorisation. Evidence shows that students who attend school regularly make better progress both academically and socially than those that don’t.

We monitor student’s attendance closely and will follow up unexplained absence with parents/carers, by telephone or by home visit. Where a student’s attendance record reaches a concerning level, we will contact you to discuss ways in which the Academy can support you and your child.

Our Academy attendance target of 100% is our aim for all students with 96% the minimum that we expect. Every lesson counts and it is this commitment to learning that will have a positive effect on student’s examinations and their future prospects in education, employment and training.

Attendance Mentoring

As part of our drive to improve attendance across the whole academy, we have attendance events which help to focus the students and improve individual attendance. The red, orange, yellow and green groups, are being mentored by a senior members of staff. Purple and blue groups are rewarded for their attendance and we celebrate with afternoon tea in the restaurant.

Outstanding attendance is celebrated in assemblies and those students achieving 100% attendance receive a badge for the lapel of their blazer. 100% for 1 term ‘Bronze Badge’, 100% for 2 terms ‘Silver Badge’ and 100% for an Academic year ‘Gold Badge’.

Persistent Absence

When a student has an attendance below 90% their attendance is known as ‘persistently absent’. Any student who has an attendance below 90% will enter legal proceedings to support the improvement in attendance. Legal proceedings are known as Attendance Case Conferences (ACC).

ACC Stage 1 – Students & Parent/Carer Invited to meet the Student Support Leader, Attendance Officer and Chair of the ACC Panel.

ACC Stage 2 – Student & Parent/Carer Invited for an attendance review 3 weeks after ACC Stage 1.

A decision will be made at stage 2 whether or not to process a fine or initiate court proceedings.

Reporting Absence

What to do if your child is ill:

If your child is too ill to attend the Academy, parents/carers should contact the Academy Attendance Office by 8:15am on 01642 326262 and leave a message and give the following information:

Child’s name, year group and the reason for the absence and how long you expect the absence to last.

We ask that you contact us each day that your child is absent unless you have given us update of your child’s illness.

What to do if your child has an appointment:

We ask that you make routine medical/dental and other appointments out of school time, where possible. If this is not possible, we require notification in advance. Please telephone; provide a note from home or appointment letter/card to confirm the appointment.

In most cases, your child should attend the Academy before the appointment and return to the Academy afterwards wherever possible. They should bring a note from home to the attendance office when it is time for them to sign out. They should sign back in at reception on return.

Failure to contact the Academy before 8:30am

We take our safeguarding responsibility seriously and calls are made daily to the contact numbers of parents/carers if a student is absent from Period 1 (8.45am to 9.45am), where the Attendance Office has received no reason for absence. Calls are made on a daily basis, even where your child has been absent due to illness on previous days. We cannot assume that your child is still ill unless you have notified us. We would not wish to put your child at risk by failing to contact you.


Punctuality to the Academy is fundamental in creating the right impression. Lateness displays a lack of respect and gives the impression that they do not value others time and effort, who considers their time more important than another.

Students should arrive and be on the Academy site by 8.30am. Students are expected to be at registration for 8.35am.

Students arriving after 8:30am will be marked as late and will receive a C3 detention (30 minutes after school). For repeat offenders, the length of time of the detention will increase by intervals of 15 minutes for each additional late arrival. The maximum length of this shall not exceed 90 minutes each day.

Students arriving after 9:00am will receive a C4 detention (60 minutes after school).

Holidays in Term Time (Leave of Absence)

The Government strongly urges parents/carers to avoid taking their children out of school for family holidays as this will disrupt their education.

Whilst we understand the difficulties parents/carers may have in organising holidays during the school holidays and the benefits to be had from cheaper term-time holidays, this type of absence is detrimental to a child’s education.

Parents are entitled to request leave of absence from the Academy. The Principal of the Academy has the discretion to unauthorise or authorise in exceptional circumstances. Please see our attendance & punctuality policy with regards to what criteria meets an ‘exceptional circumstance’ or DFE guidance.

The Academy has the right to serve a Penalty Notice on parents/carers who insist on taking their children out of school without authorisation.

Penalties require each parent to pay a fine of £60 per child if paid within 21 days or £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days (with effect from September 2013).

Failure to pay within the specified timescale could result in prosecution in the Magistrates Court for failure to ensure regular school attendance. This legislation also applies to any student taking leave of absence without prior notification to the Academy.

Any request should be made well in advance and in writing (4 Weeks). We will consider all requests individually, although family holidays will only be authorised in the most exceptional circumstances.

Where a parental request has been refused, and parents continue to take their child out of school, this absence will be recorded as an unauthorised holiday and will result in a fine.

If a leave of absence is authorised for 10 school days, the student must return on the 11th day. Failure to do so will result in the student being removed from the academy roll and a new application for a place in a school will need to be made.

Click here to download the student leave of absence form

What sanctions can be put in place for non-attendance?

Parents can be issued a Fixed Penalty Notice by the school, local authority or police, for their child's non-attendance. The penalty is £60 (per parent/carer) and this rises to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days. Each local authority should publish a Code of Conduct for Fixed Penalty Notices.

There is no right of appeal against a Fixed Penalty Notice. If this is not paid the local authority can proceed to prosecution or withdraw the notice. The local authority also can prosecute parents for non-attendance without issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice. Only the local authority can prosecute parents and they must fund all associated costs. Local authorities must conduct its investigations in line with the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act 1984.

If a registered pupil of compulsory school age fails to attend school regularly the parent could be guilty of an offence under s444 Education Act 1996. The Supreme Court has held in April 2017 that attending school "regularly" means attendance in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school and not "sufficiently frequent attendance". This means that a child must attend school on every day that the school requires him or her to do so and failure to do this may lead to the commission of an offence.

There are two 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 £1000.
  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 £2500 and a prison sentence of up to 3 months.

Parents can also be prosecuted by local authorities under section 103 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 if a pupil of compulsory school age who remains on the admissions register is found in a public place during school hours after being excluded from school. Sanctions can include a fine of up to £1000.

Leave of Absence for Other Reasons

Absence will not be authorised for reasons such as shopping for uniform, birthdays, day trips, etc. If parents/carers wish their child(ren) to be absent for other reasons, such as compassionate leave, special family events, or to participate in sporting or musical competitions, etc., application should be made in writing, in advance where possible, or by telephone/email to the Attendance Office.

Click Here to view the Attendance and Punctuality Protocol