Attendance at school is essential to a child's ongoing success and it is therefore vital that all pupils attend as regularly as possible. The national average attendance for primary school children is currently 96.1%. As a school, any children who fall below this will flag up as needing to improve their attendance unless there is verifiable justification, which is shared promptly with the school.
Recent reports show there is a clear link between poor attendance at school and lower academic achievement, as pupils with no absence are 1.3 times more likely to achieve age related expectations by the end of KS2, and are 3.1 times more likely to achieve at a higher level, than pupils that missed 10-15% of all sessions (DfE Research Report, March 2016).
If a child is not at school then it is a legal requirement that we follow up all absences. We ask that if your child is unwell then you contact the school on the first day that they are not attending. This must be done through a phone call on 01472 840280 or directly at the school office (emails, text messages or contact through social media are not acceptable forms of contact as they may not be read in a timely fashion or by the correct member of staff).
As a school we cannot stress enough the importance of punctuality in helping children’s learning. Repeated lateness disrupts routines and for many children, even being a few minutes late, can have a significant impact on their learning, throwing off their whole morning or even their whole day.
We have recently moved to a system of allowing children into the school building 5 minutes before the official start of the school day to ensure a prompt yet orderly start.
Latest Attendance Figures
In 2018/19 Utterby Primary Academy had an Overall Absence of 3.51%, this is based on 445 sessions being missed out of a possible 12,676.
Our Overall Absence rate equates to an average of 8.4 sessions missed by each pupil.
18.87% of our cohort had no Overall Absence sessions, a total of 10 pupils.
Overall Absence at Utterby has decreased by 1.25% from 4.76% in 2017/18 to 3.51% in 2018/19. This continues a positive 3 year trend.
The school's average for the last 3 academic years is 4.80%.
Utterby is in percentile 33 when compared to all schools nationally for Overall Absence.
We rose 15 places in the percentile rankings between 2017/18 and 2018/19, from 48 to 33.
Promoting Good Attendance
Whilst many schools offer children rewards or incentives for good attendance, we have chosen not to follow this path. Some children, through no fault of their own (be it illness or parenting decisions), cannot come to school everyday. We believe that it is unfair to penalize children, albeit indirectly, if they have been genuinely ill or if parents have made a choice to keep them out of school. Instead, our curriculum is designed to engaging and exciting to encourage children to look forward to school ad want to come to seek out new learning experiences. We tackle poor attendance directly with parents by letters, meetings with the Headteacher, Attendance Panel hearings with governors, additional external support (such as an Early Help Assessment or Team Around the Child) or even fines for unauthorised term-time holidays, or if children are persistently absent and all else has failed. If parents / carers do not engage with the early phases of intervention we may move to requesting a fixed penalty notice sooner.
One of the major barriers to better attendance in our school is families taking term time holidays. Whilst we recognise and understand some of the reasons families may take term time holidays, we need to be proactive in improving attendance. In 2018/19 in an effort to do so, we balloted parents as to whether they were in favour of amending the term dates to include an extra week’s holiday in October, in order to bring our holidays into line with a number of local secondary schools and create a better window for family holidays. 78.8% returned in favour of doing so, so now have a 2 week October half-term break. Any holidays taken outside of the school holidays may result in a request being made to the local authority to issue a fixed penalty notice. Please see below for further details.
Tackling Poor Attendance
At the end of each term we examine each child’s attendance and punctuality in detail and pass these onto the parents.
Children's percentage attendance will be rated using the following broad categorisations: "Excellent", "Very Good", "Good", "Beginning to fall below expected levels" and "Below the expected level".
If the attendance is low or not adequately explained parents may be invited into school for a meeting with the Headteacher.
In some circumstances we realise and appreciate that there may be good, valid reasons for any absence and parents may have already consulted with the school about this. However, if attendance has been low and/or irregular we may require you to obtain a “Med 3 note” from your GP each time your child is absent and forward this to the school in order for us to consider any absence due to medical conditions.
Local councils and schools can use various legal powers if your child is missing school without a good reason. They can use the following mechanisms:
Parenting Order - this means you have to go to parenting classes. You’ll also have to do what the court says to improve your child’s school attendance.
Education Supervision Order - if the council thinks you need support getting your child to go to school, but you’re not co-operating, they can apply to a court for an Education Supervision Order. A supervisor will be appointed to help you get your child into education.
School Attendance Order - you will have 15 days to provide evidence that you’ve registered your child with the school listed in the order or that you’re giving them home education. If you don’t, you could be prosecuted or given a fine.
Fine (sometimes known as a ‘fixed penalty notice’) – the local council can give you a fine of £60, which rises to £120 if you don’t pay within 21 days. If you don’t pay the fine after 28 days you may be prosecuted for your child’s absence from school. Please note: fining families is not something to school wants to have to do. Last year we requested several fixed penalty notices be issued to some families for reasons of on-going poor attendance and for term time holidays taken without proper notification. It creates a lot of work for us in school and we do not receive any of the money generated from it.
In our school we deem any child with less than 96.1% attendance to be classed as "persistently absent". These children have their attendance checked daily. Parents of persistently absent children will be asked to attend regular meetings with the Headteacher and may be subject to home visits from a member of the senior leadership team to ascertain the validity of an absences.
Requests for Holidays
Due to the importance of attendance, please be aware that requests for holidays during term time will in the vast majority of cases not be authorised by the school. There is no legal right to take your child on holiday during term time; however, for exceptional reasons, up to ten days authorised absence from school can be granted.
If you wish to take your child on holiday then we request that you complete a holiday form and then return it into school. Each request is considered individually, taking into account factors like the reason for the holiday, its timing and the child’s attendance record.
Please note: the circumstance really do have to be exceptional. Unfortunately this does not include shift work or the set holiday calendar coinciding with busy periods of work.
If any family takes an unauthorised holiday of 5 days or more, or any holiday without notifying the school properly in advance, the school will make an application to Lincolnshire County Council to issue a fixed penalty notice. Your local council can give each parent a fine of £60 for each child absent, which rises to £120 each if you do not pay within 21 days. If you do not pay the fine after 28 days you may be prosecuted for your child’s absence from school.
Any holiday taken without properly informing the school in advance will automatically be classed as unauthorised.
Further information regarding school attendance can be found on the academy 'Attendance Policy' and on the government website on the link, both below -