As I am sure you appreciate, regular and punctual school attendance is essential if your son or daughter is to maximise their educational opportunities. Erratic school attendance cannot only disrupt your child’s education, but can also affect their social life within the school and the opportunities available to them upon leaving school.
It is the responsibility and intention of St. Bede’s Catholic School and Sixth Form College to provide the best education possible. We can only do this if students attend regularly.
An absence of ten school days results in your child missing 50 school lessons and means the highest attendance they can achieve in that school year is 95%. Over the course of their school career, a student who only achieves 90% attendance will have missed a year of lessons. This will have a significant impact upon their learning and achievement. Current research shows that if a student misses seventeen school days in a year during Key Stage 4, on average they will drop a whole GCSE grade in every subject that they take. In the Summer of 2016, nine out of ten of our top achieving students had in excess of 96% attendance.
As a parent it is your legal responsibility to ensure the regular and punctual attendance of your child at school.
By law, all schools must record and monitor student attendance. The Headteacher decides whether or not to authorise absences. Schools are required to address and explore reasons for poor attendance with parents. Schools must also report the names of students who are persistently absent. A persistent absentee is defined as any student whose attendance is less than 90%; this is regardless of whether absences are authorised or unauthorised.
Absences may include illness, arriving late to school after registers have closed, medical appointments, exceptional leave or failure to attend school due to bad weather, where the school is open.
I would therefore ask parents to adhere to the following suggestions:
Only keep your child off school if you believe they are genuinely too ill to attend.
Make all medical appointments out of school hours; if this is not possible, ensure that your child is only absent for the duration of the appointment and attends school either before or after the appointment. This is particularly important when students receive regular dental treatments. Parents should inform school of all appointments via the student planner.
Take holidays only during the official school holidays.
Ensure that your child is punctual to school each morning. School starts at 8.45 am and students arriving after this time may be subject to in-school sanctions. Students who arrive at school from 9.30 am onwards when registers have closed, are legally recorded as a half day unauthorised absence.
Ensure that if the absence is unavoidable, your child makes every effort to catch up the work missed.
I recognise that there may be times when genuine absence is unavoidable and if this is the case, please contact school on the first day of absence and every day after, stating the reason for absence.
Where an absence is planned, in line with Government regulations, schools may only consider giving permission for a child to be absent under exceptional circumstances. Any such request must be made in writing at least four weeks in advance of the leave, outlining any exceptional circumstances. Requests should be made for the attention of Mrs G Kilburn via the online Leave of Absence Form (this can be printed and returned to Student Support or emailed directly to firstname.lastname@example.org) who will then discuss all requests with the Headteacher. The Headteacher’s decision will be given in writing, stating whether approval has been given and any conditions that apply to the approval. If permission is granted, your child will be expected to collect and complete work from the teachers of lessons missed.
It is important to note that any leave taken without the permission of the school will result in the absence being unauthorised and a Fixed Penalty Notice of £60 will be issued. The Fixed Penalty Notice is applied to each parent and for each child absent without permission.
I would ask you to consider these issues and support us in ensuring that your son or daughter has the maximum attendance possible for this year by aiming for 100% attendance. If you are experiencing difficulties and would like support in ensuring your child attends school regularly or arrives to school on time, please contact Student Support on 01207 523408 to discuss the issue further.
Thank you in anticipation of your support.
Mr N Harrison