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Great Harwood

Primary School

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Attendance Policy


Mission Statement


Together we learn, we achieve, we enjoy.


School Expectations:


  • Treat other people how you would like to be treated.
  • Listen carefully to others and respond politely.
  • Look after your own and others’ belongings.
  • Wear the correct uniform with pride.
  • Keep the school clean, tidy and safe.
  • Always be the best you can.



School Values


The school values, agreed by all stake holders, are that everyone in our school will be:

  • Respectful
  • Tolerant
  • Polite
  • Supportive
  • Motivated
  • Responsible
  • Forgiving


This is a successful school and your child plays their part in making it so. We aim for an environment which 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 and 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 your child attends regularly and this Policy sets out how we will achieve this together.




This Policy has been agreed by the Governors of Great Harwood Primary School and represents the School’s commitment to striving for 100% attendance by all our children. It sets out the principles, procedures and practice the school will undertake. Strategies, sanctions and possible legal consequences of poor attendance and punctuality are also detailed, as well as rewards for, and benefits of good attendance. This policy will be reviewed, amended as necessary and published annually in accordance with current legislation and guidance.


Policy Rationale:


  • Regular patterns of attendance and punctuality from EYFS onwards are key factors in raising achievement.
  • All children and young people, aged between 5 and 16, have the right to full time education. Schools and Local Authorities have a duty to ensure they take up this right.
  • Positive attitudes to attendance enable pupils to optimise their opportunities both at school and in later life.
  • Irregular attendance may lead to disadvantaged and inequality; place pupils at risk; isolate them from their peers and may result in unsettled behaviour.
  • Regular attendance is crucial to ensure equal access to the curriculum for all pupils.


Guiding Principles:


  • Receiving a full-time, suitable education is a child’s legal entitlement.
  • It is the legal responsibility of parents / carers to ensure this happens.
  • Attending school regularly aids intellectual, social and emotional development.
  • Attending school regularly safeguards the welfare of children.
  • All children, whose attendance is poor, will be treated as vulnerable.


These principles are enshrined in British law, within the Education Act 1996, the Children Act 1989, and other associated pieces of legislation.


Aims of the Policy:


  • To ensure that all children attend as near full-time as possible, in order to maximise their educational achievement and social development.
  • To discharge the school’s duty to safeguarding its pupils to the best of its ability.
  • To ensure that all those responsible for children’s education (including parents, carers, staff and Governors) understand and accept their responsibilities in relation to attendance.
  • To minimise absence from school, thereby reducing levels of persistent absence.
  • To improve the life chances of children who attend Great Harwood Primary School and prepare them to be fully contributing citizens when they reach adulthood.
  • To work with families to identify reasons for poor attendance and aim to resolve these wherever possible.



Policy Objectives:


  • To safeguard the welfare, health, social and emotional development of children.
  • To improve pupils’ achievement by ensuring high levels of attendance and punctuality.
  • To achieve a minimum of 96% attendance for all children, apart from those with chronic health issues.
  • To create an ethos in which good attendance and punctuality are recognised as the norm and valued by the school.
  • To ensure that the policy applies to all children, starting from Reception aged children, in order to promote good habits at an early age.
  • To reduce persistent absence.
  • To eliminate term time holidays / leave of absence.



Promoting Attendance:


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




To help us focus on this we will:


  • Promote a culture across the whole school which identifies the importance of regular and punctual attendance ;
  • Give you details on attendance in our regular newsletter;
  • Report to you, termly, on how your child is performing in school, what their attendance and punctuality rate is and how this relates to their attainments;
  • Celebrate good attendance by displaying weekly and monthly class achievements;
  • Reward good attendance through class competitions, certificates and outings/events
  • Reward 100% attendance with small prizes termly and an outing/event at the end of the year
  • Carry out transition work with pupils moving between nursery and reception, and before leaving for high school
  • Run promotional events when parents, pupils and staff can work together on raising attendance levels across the school
  • Further develop positive and consistent communication between home and school
  • Make attendance and punctuality a priority for everyone associated with school, including parents, pupils, staff and governors
  • Set targets to improve individual pupil and whole-school attendance



Absence During Term-Time:


The Headteacher will not grant leave of absence during term-time unless there are exceptional circumstances. The Headteacher will determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if leave is granted. However, in this school that discretion will only be exercised in the most exceptional circumstances.

If a child is taken on holiday during term-time, without obtaining the school’s agreement, a Penalty Notice by Lancashire County Council is issued. Parents may also receive a fine if return from an extended term-time holiday, without school agreement, is delayed.

We are unable to accept medical evidence provided from overseas. If a child has been unwell whilst abroad, medical evidence from the child’s GP or hospital in the UK is required upon return to school.

A Penalty Notice carries a fine of £60, per parent, per child. If the fine is not paid within 21 days it rises to £120 per parent, per child. If not paid at all, court action may be initiated by the Local Authority.






Responsibilities of Parents / Carers


Understanding types of absence coding:


Every half-day absence from school is classified by the school as AUTHORISED or UNAUTHORISED. Information about the cause of any absence is always required, preferably in writing. Medical evidence may also be required in the form of a copy of a prescription, GP note etc.

Types of absence that are likely to be authorised are illness, medical or dental emergencies which unavoidably fall in school time. Parents are asked to inform the school office on the first day of the child’s absence and each consecutive day of the absence.

Examples of types of absence that are not considered reasonable and will not be authorised under any circumstances are:

  • 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 after the register has closed
  • Shopping, looking after other children or birthdays
  • Day trips and holidays in term time which have not been agreed



Reluctant attenders/School refusal:


Parents/carers should do everything possible to encourage their child to attend school on a daily basis. If the reason for their reluctance appears to be school-based, such as difficulty with work or disputes with peers then parent should discuss this with the school at the earliest opportunity. The school will do everything possible to resolve the issue.




School Procedures


Registration and punctuality procedures:


Registers are taken twice a day, once at the start of the school day at 8.55am, and once during the afternoon session. Registers are marked at 8.55am. The registers will remain open until 9.30am. Pupils who arrive after 8.55am but before the end of the registration period will be coded L (Late before registers close) which is a present mark. The number of minutes late will be recorded in the register. Pupils arriving after the registers have closed will be coded U (Late after registers close) which counts as an unauthorised absence. This may mean that you could face the possibility of a Penalty Notice should the problem persist.

When your child has a persistent late record you will be asked to meet with the Headteacher, and/or a member of the Inclusion Team, to resolve the problem, you can approach us at any time when you are having problems getting your child to school on time.

Only the Headteacher or designated member(s) of staff acting on their behalf can authorise absence. If there is no known reason for the absence at registration, then the absence will be recorded as unauthorised, until a satisfactory reason is provided. If the reason given is not satisfactory in the school’s view and evidence of the reason cannot be provided, the absence will be coded O (unauthorised absence).

Absence notes received from parents/carers will be kept for the remainder of the academic year; or longer if there are concerns that require further investigation or legal action.

If a pupil is persistently late, parents/carers will be invited into school to discuss the reasons for this. A meeting will be held with the School’s Attendance Officer.



First Day Absence Contact:


Parents are expected to notify the school on the first day of the child’s absence if their child is unable to attend for any unavoidable reason, such as illness. This may be in the form of a letter, a phone call, email or oral explanation to the School Office. Explanations by the child are not accepted. If the school does not receive notification, the parent/carer will receive a telephone call, to ascertain the reason for absence.

First day contact will be carried out as early as possible in the school day, in order to notify parents whose children may have set off for school, but not arrived.

Class teachers and administration staff will be attentive for patterns of absences e.g. mostly Mondays or Fridays. If such a pattern is spotted, it will be brought to the attention of the Attendance Officer.


Second Day Absence Contact:


If the child remains absent for a second day without contact from the family, a phone call will be made again to attempt to ascertain a reason for absence. If the child is absent due to illness, medical evidence will be requested to support the absence. This can be a copy of a prescription, doctor’s certificate or the label from prescribed medicine.


Continuing Absence Procedures:


If a phone call to the family has been made on the first and second day of the child’s absence and there has been no reply, the school will make telephone calls to the family on the third day of absence. In the event of an absence of three or more days without contact from the family, the school will decide whether a home visit is needed.


Any child who is absent without explanation, has a pattern of low unacceptable attendance or persistent lateness after registers close will be highlighted as a high concern. Parents will be invited to an attendance meeting to discuss the reasons for continued absence. If attendance does not improve, after a period of agreed monitoring (via a parent contract), the matter will be referred to the PAST (Pupil Attendance Support Team) team so that further investigations can be made. The Attendance Management Officer will visit the home; set targets for improvement; signpost sources of support if needed and ultimately may recommend court action or a Penalty Notice if there is no improvement.



Frequent/Persistent Absence Procedures:


Regular monitoring of the registers takes place to identify pupils with a pattern of absences that may lead to Persistent Absence (PA). The Attendance Officer is responsible for identification of any emerging concerns, and putting in place actions for each pupil of concern. Initially the school will try to resolve the problem with the parents/carers, but if the pattern continues a referral to an appropriate source may take place. The school will refer to the School Nurse if the problem appears to be a medical one; where there appears to be issues requiring outside intervention to support the family and the child, referral may be made through the use of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) and/or referral to outside agencies; including the Local Authority School Attendance Team who could issue a Penalty Notice.


All parents of PA pupils will be identified and monitored. Communication between school and parents will be through phone calls, letters, meetings, discussions and Parenting Contracts if attendance does not improve. Such a plan or contract may include allocation of additional in-school or external support.



Consequences of Poor Attendance / Punctuality:


For pupils whose attendance and/or punctuality fails to improve, after a range of interventions and support measures have been tried by the school, the ultimate consequences may be one of the following:

  1. The school may ask the Council to issue a Penalty Notice on its behalf. A Penalty Notice carries a fine of £60 per parent, per child. If the fine is not paid within 21 days it rises to £120 per parent, per child. If not paid at all, court action may be initiated.
  2. The school may ask the Council to initiate court action under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996, which could lead to fines of up to £2500, or even imprisonment.
  3. In some cases, action may be taken under the Children Act 1989 to protect welfare and development of the child.



Holidays in Term Time;


  • Taking holidays in term time will affect your child’s schooling as much as any other absence and we expect parents/carers to help us by trying not to take children away in school time.
  • Remember that any savings you think you may make by taking holidays in school time are offset by the cost of your child’s education.
  • There is no automatic entitlement in law to time off in school time to go on holiday.
  • All applications for leave must be made in advance through a meeting with the Headteacher.
  • Full details of our policy and procedures are available from the school, however it is important that you understand the circumstances when leave in term time will not be agreed by us.
  • Any period of leave taken without the agreement of the school, or in excess of that agreed, will be classed as unauthorised and my attract sanctions such as a Penalty Notice.



Children who Cease to Attend without Prior Notification (Child Missing In Education) Procedures:


Procedures for trying to trace children who cease to attend without prior notification are covered in detail in the CME Policy and Procedures. If, after ten days of continuous absence school has been unable to ascertain the whereabouts of a pupil, a referral of the child’s details to the Local Authority will be made for it to perform further checks not available to school. If after 20 days of continuous unauthorised absences, their whereabouts cannot be traced, they will be removed from the school roll.



Non starters:


Pupils who are allocated places but fail to start are also treated as CME. If the school has been unable to make contact with the family for a ten-day period after their expected arrival, the pupil’s details will be referred to the Local Authority CME team for further checks.

All staff will follow the above procedures carefully and class teachers must ensure that they complete the OMR Absence Sheets every week.



Reporting Absence:


It is a legal responsibility to include attendance on a child’s annual report. This information includes the number of authorised and unauthorised absences out of the maximum number of possible attendance, together with the number of late marks. It is of vital importance that this information is accurate. This is the responsibility of all staff.

Action taken by the Attendance Officer in relation to the absence or punctuality of an individual pupil is recorded and is kept by the Attendance Officer. If attendance fails to improve despite the involvement of the school, the case will be referred to the PAST team (Pupil Attendance Support Team).



Vulnerable Children:


Children who have looked After Child (LAC) status, children who are subject to a Child Protection Plan (CP) or a Children in Need Plan (CIN) will be treated with the highest priority. Any unexplained absence will be followed up immediately by a telephone call to the home or a home visit. The Designated Lead for Safeguarding will be alerted of every first day absence for these pupils.

Children with Special Education Needs or disabilities (SEND) will be treated with similar priority in order that their time in school can be maximised, and their learning supported to the greatest extent possible.

Children on the “at risk” register may not be taken off roll without permission from Social Services. This is usually communicated to the School Attendance Officer by the Designated Lead for Safeguarding.





Poor punctuality is not acceptable. If any child misses the start of the day they miss work and do not spend time with their class teacher getting vital information and news for the day. Pupils arriving late can disrupt lessons, be embarrassed by their lateness and therefore absence may be encouraged.

If any child has a persistent late record parents/carers will be sent a first and then second warning letter, stating the number of days and dates that their child has been late. If poor punctuality continues, parents will be asked to meet with the School Attendance Officer or a member of the Senior Leadership Team to resolve the problem. Parents and carers can approach the school at any time if they are experiencing difficulty in getting their child to school.



Recognition of Achievement:


The school has a number of systems for the recognition and reward of children’s achievements and good attendance.

Children obtaining 100% attendance are awarded with a certificate and prize in assembly after each term.

Classes with the best attendance are rewarded with a weekly attendance prize. Children in Key Stage One receive an attendance teddy and children in KS2 receive a trophy.

Parents are notified regularly of the classes with the best attendance via the monthly newsletter and the school’s website.


Roles and Responsibilities for Attendance Matter in this School:



  • Ensure children attend regularly and are punctual
  • Avoid booking time off school outside of school holidays
  • Contact school by 9am on 1st day of absence and any further day of absence until their child is back in school
  • Attend attendance meetings in school
  • Participate in Parenting Contracts and Common Assessment Framework, and cooperate in support and interventions offered by school or other agencies
  • Ensure the child reaches an Attendance percentage of 96% and above.
  • 96% and above = Excellent
  • 90-96% = Needs Improvement
  • 90% and below = Persistently absent, requires vast improvement



  • Acknowledge behaviour needed out of school, e.g. early bedtime
  • Attend school / registration punctually
  • Speak to parents / teacher when issues arise that may have an effect on school attendance
  • Cooperate and participate in interventions and support offered by school or other agencies


Headteacher / School Attendance Lead:

  • Take the lead in ensuring attendance has a high profile within the school
  • Ensure there are designated staff with day-to-day responsibility for attendance matters
  • Ensure adequate, protected time is allocated to discharge these responsibilities
  • Take overall responsibility for ensuring the school conforms to all statutory requirements in respect of attendance



Attendance Officer:

  • First day response: Contact parents if a reason for absence has not been provided
  • Input and update the attendance registers
  • Regularly identify and monitor pupil, class and whole school attendance and punctuality levels, particularly that of vulnerable groups
  • Regularly communicate pupil attendance and punctuality levels to parents
  • Work with children and parents to remove barriers to regular and punctual attendance.


All school staff:

  • Provide a welcoming atmosphere for children and provide a safe learning environment
  • Ensure an appropriate and responsive curriculum
  • Provide a sympathetic response to any pupil concerns
  • Are aware of factors that can contribute to non-attendance
  • See pupils’ attendance as the responsibility of all school staff
  • Participate in training regarding school systems and procedures



The Governing Body:

  • The Governing Body receive a termly attendance report from the School Attendance Officer. This takes the form of a computer printout and will be incorporated within the Headteacher’s termly written report to the Governing Body
  • The Governors will comment on the report, and if possible, make suggestions as to how overall attendance might be improved.



Review and Monitoring:

The Headteacher, Governors and staff of the school will monitor the effectiveness and quality of the Attendance Policy on an annual basis, in collaboration with the Local Authority and Attendance Management Officer. It will be reviewed on each occasion.


Date of last review January 2023

Date of next review January 2024