At West Minster we believe that, together, we can ensure that your child is successful and has the best possible start to their academic life. School and Home are a partnership and together, we can make a difference to your child’s future!
In order for children to achieve their full potential, it is important that they attend school on time and every day.
Why is it important for your child to attend school regularly?
• It gives your child the best possible start in life.
• They will be able to keep up with their learning.
• They will have better future employment prospects.
• They will be at less risk of becoming victims of crime.
• They will be less likely to become involved in anti-social behaviour.
• It is the law.
Why is it important for your child to be punctual?
• Persistent lateness can be legally counted as unauthorised absences.
• It causes disruption to the rest of the class
• It can cause embarrassment to the child.
• It makes it harder for the child to settle as they may have missed vital instructions.
• Being 15 minutes late each day during an entire school year is the same as
missing two whole weeks of school!
At West Minster we recognise the need to improve attendance and support families in getting children to school.
Each week the Attendance Mickey is rewarded to the top two classes with the best attendance in Nursery, Reception and Key Stage 1.
The Attendance Trophy is rewarded to the class with the best attendance in Key Stage 2.
Classes that achieve above 98% attendance for the previous month are also rewarded with a day of Non-school uniform.
Each Term, at the teacher’s discretion, pupils with good attendance, much improved attendance or who made every effort to attend school despite the odds will put their names in the “Catch my name” jar and names will be drawn at the end of the term for interesting prizes.
On magic days, the magic wheel of fortune will draw the names of pupils with good attendance in the last three weeks and prizes will be won.
The more pupils attend school, the more they learn, and the better their life chances as they progress through and beyond school!
That’s because at school, children get a wide range of opportunities and experiences in the form of social interactions, academic lessons, educational trips and school clubs which allow them to develop their interests and become the best they can be.
We want to work together, so we can improve your child’s attendance and help them become their best!
However, we do have to be clear about parental responsibility: It is parents or carer(s)’ legal responsibility to ensure their child arrives at school on time every day.
• Are you having difficulties in the morning ensuring the children are at school on time?
• Are you experiencing financial difficulty in getting your children to and from school?
• Are you experiencing health issues, at the moment, that make it difficult to keep to a routine?
If that’s the case, we’d like to hear from you and work with you to ensure your child can enjoy all what school has to offer. So please make an appointment with the Attendance Officer who will be happy to talk to you and offer support.
Below are the procedures we as a school and you as parents/ carers are legally required to follow.
Where ill health or other circumstances (such as bereavement) prevent this, parents/carers must inform the school either by telephone, by email at
email@example.com, in writing or a note in the child’s contact book as early as possible.
Parents/ carer(s) are required to phone, email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or write to the school by 8.30 am of the first day of absence and every day thereafter. A valid reason and, if required, evidence must be provided for the absence.
Unexplained absences are followed up by the Attendance Office, by telephone and/or by letter. When calls are not returned promptly or explanations are still not provided, these absences are recorded as unauthorised.
Only the school can make an absence authorised. Parents/ carers do not have this authority. Consequently, not all absences supported by parents/ carers will be classified as authorised. For example, the absence will be unauthorised if a child is absent from school without the permission of both the school and a parent/ carer or if evidence has been requested by the school but not provided. Therefore, the absence is unauthorised if a child is away from school without good reason, even with the support of a parent/ carer.
We will work towards ensuring that all pupils feel supported and valued. Teachers will send a clear message that if a pupil is absent, she/he will be missed.
The school day begins at 8.35 a.m and children should be in class by 8.45 am
L Code is used from 8.46
U Code is used from 9.16
From February 2005, Kent Local Education Authority (LEA) introduced Penalty Notices for unauthorised absence from school at least 10 sessions (5 days) in a current term.
The following circumstances will be considered as appropriate reasons for the issuing of Penalty Notices:
• Overt truancy (frequently misses school without an adequate excuse)
• Parentally condoned absence
• Unauthorised Leave of Absence for a holiday
• Delayed return from Leave of Absence without agreement
• Persistent lateness after close of register
• Where an excluded child is found in a public place during school hours
during the first five days.
From September 2013 the Department for Education amended the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 removing the Head Teacher’s ability to authorise leave of absence for a family holiday. Requests for holidays in term-time will not be authorised as the Regulations only allow Head Teacher’s to authorise absence (leave) in “exceptional circumstances”.
Payment of a Penalty Notice from September 2013
£60.00 per parent/ carer per child if paid within 21 days, £120.00 per parent/ carer per child if paid BEFORE 28 days. Non-payment of a Penalty Notice may result in a prosecution process under the provisions of Section 444 or 444(1)A of the 1996 Education Act or under Section 103 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006.
Please note; The Penalty Notice applies to each child and each parent/ carer. For example where there are two parents/ carers in the household and one child, the Penalty Notice will be £240.00 reducing to £120.00 if paid within 21 days.
At West Minster Primary School, we consider attendance and these new legal powers so important that we are bringing this to your attention.
Leave of absences will not be authorised in term time. In exceptional circumstances a request can be put in writing to the Head of School, if possible two weeks before the leave and this will be dealt with on an individual basis.
Common questions regarding attendance
My child doesn’t want to come to school. What should I do?
Most children will, at some point, tell you that they do not want to go to school. This is quite normal. Always do your best to find out what has upset them and talk to your child about how to resolve any problems. If your child says they are not happy going to school, or show other signs of reluctance i.e. recurrent minor ailments that quickly get better once the school day is under way, reluctance to do their homework or share
information from school, friendship difficulties, concerns about bullying, etc., speak to a member of school staff as soon as possible. Try to be calm and organised at the beginning of the day so that there is little opportunity for your child to become anxious. Praise achievement at school, however small. Make sure you understand and support the school’s behaviour and attendance policies, giving your child clear guidance about what is expected of them and explain why they have to go to school. If the problems persist please ask for support from the school.
My child has a medical/dental appointment in school. Should I re-book it in non-school time?
Schools request that parents/ carers make all non-emergency appointments for medical and dental check-ups outside of the school day. If this is not possible please give as much notice as possible to the school of the appointment. You will need to collect your child from school for the appointment, sign them out and back in again when you return. This is a legal requirement for Health and Safety purposes. Your child must attend school before and after the appointment where appropriate so that as little of the school day is missed as possible.
Can my child have a day off school?
The Headteacher of your child’s school should only authorise the absence if your child is genuinely ill and unable to attend school. Evidence of illness may be requested by the Attendance Office.
In exceptional circumstances, the Headteacher may agree to authorise other absences, such as absence due to a family bereavement.
The examples given below are not exceptional circumstances:
• to take your child out for new shoes
• to collect relatives from the airport
• to care for other family members
• because a sibling is ill
• because it is your child’s birthday
What happens if the Headteacher or the Attendance Officer on behalf of the Headteacher refuses to authorise the absence?
The absence will be recorded as ‘unauthorised’, and this will be noted on your child’s attendance record. The school will also be required to make a referral to the Local Authority if your child has high levels of unauthorised absences. You may, as a consequence, be liable to legal action being taken by the Local Authority, which could mean a prosecution in Magistrates Court or the issue of a penalty notice, payable by each parent/ carer for each child.
As my child’s parent/carer, why can I not authorise the absence?
It is for the Headteacher to consider whether the pupil’s absences are justified (The Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 1995 as amended). It is important that parents/carers contact the school as soon as their child is ill. The school will be required to investigate all cases of pupils who have high levels of absences.
If my child is absent from school on a regular basis, what will happen?
If your child is genuinely too ill to come to school (see information from NHS below), and there is more than an average level of absence, it may be wise to obtain confirmation that they are unfit for school from your GP, or provide evidence of any prescribed medication.
If the absence is considered unjustified, the school will contact you to discuss the situation and agree measures for reducing the absences. In the event that your child has excessive absences from school that are not supported with medical evidence, the school will be expected to make a referral to the Local Authority. You may as a consequence be liable to legal action being taken by the Local Authority.
If meeting with the school doesn’t bring about improvement, what next?
If the absence appears to result from school-related difficulties and the issue has not been resolved through consultation with the class teacher, it will be advisable to contact a senior member of school staff to discuss your concerns and consider how the situation can be resolved. There is a wellbeing team which supports pupils. If the absence appears to be the result of parents/ carers not conforming to the actions agreed at the meeting, the school will move to the next stage which could include a
referral to the Local Authority.
What happens if I cannot control my child?
The law specifies that it is the responsibility of the parents/carers to ensure that their child/children attend school regularly and punctually. In law, parental/ carers’ failure to ensure a child’s regular attendance at school is treated as an absolute offence. This means that parents/carers will be held liable and at risk of prosecution if their child is not attending school on a regular basis. The Local Authority only uses legal action as a last resort, and parents/carers will be supported to ensure that their child attends school regularly by offering guidance on difficulties resulting in poor/non-attendance. It is important that positive habits relating to regular school attendance e.g. being organised at the start of the day and arriving at school on time are formed at a very early age. If your child is generally beyond your control, there are support agencies, which may be in a position to counsel your child to uncover the underlying reason for their unacceptable behaviour or to offer family support.
Will I get taken to court if my child does not attend school?
If your child’s absence from school is unacceptable and fails to improve, despite involvement by the school, consideration will be given by the Local Authority to progress the matter to court or through the issuing of a Penalty Notice (PN). Each case will be considered individually.
What will happen if my child is frequently late for school?
Getting to school punctually every day and in time for registration is an important part of the school day. Your child will miss out on important learning, which could affect their achievement. They don’t have the social time to settle into class. It can be embarrassing for them, and they may disrupt the rest of the class. If your child arrives after the school register closes, the session is classed as an unauthorised absence. High levels of unauthorised absence can result in a referral to the Local Authority, and
legal action may be taken against you, or you could be subject to a penalty notice.
What can you do?
• Find out what time the school starts, and how long it takes for your child to get there
• Have a regular routine for the start of each day
• Help your child get their clothes and equipment ready before they go to bed
• Set a reasonable bedtime to make sure they get enough sleep
• Get your child to school on time. If they start late they have a bad start to the day.
Is my child too ill for school? – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
• Coughs and colds
It’s fine to send your child to school with a minor cough or common cold. But if they have a fever, keep them off school until the fever goes.
Encourage your child to throw away any used tissues and to wash their hands regularly.
• High temperature
If your child has a high temperature, keep them off school until it goes away.
If your child has chickenpox, keep them off school until all the spots have crusted over.
This is usually about 5 days after the spots first appeared.
• Cold sores
There’s no need to keep your child off school if they have a cold sore.
Encourage them not to touch the blister or kiss anyone while they have the cold sore, or to share things like cups and towels.
You don’t need to keep your child away from school if they have conjunctivitis. Do get advice from your pharmacist. Encourage your child not to rub their eyes and to wash their hands regularly.
• Ear infection
If your child has an ear infection and a high temperature or severe earache, keep them off school until they’re feeling better or their high temperature goes away.
• Hand, foot and mouth disease
If your child has hand, foot and mouth disease but seems well enough to go to school, there’s no need to keep them off.
Encourage your child to throw away any used tissues straight away and to wash their hands regularly.
• Head lice and nits
There’s no need to keep your child off school if they have head lice.
You can treat head lice and nits without seeing a GP.
If your child has impetigo, they’ll need treatment from a GP, often with antibiotics.
Keep them off school until all the sores have crusted over and healed, or for 48 hours after they start antibiotic treatment.
Encourage your child to wash their hands regularly and not to share things like towels and cups with other children at school.
If your child has ringworm, see your pharmacist unless it’s on their scalp, in which case you should see a GP.
It’s fine for your child to go to school once they have started treatment.
• Scarlet fever
If your child has scarlet fever, they’ll need treatment with antibiotics from a GP.
Otherwise they’ll be infectious for 2 to 3 weeks.
Your child can go back to school 24 hours after starting antibiotics.
• Slapped cheek syndrome (fifth disease)
You don’t need to keep your child off school if they have slapped cheek syndrome, because once the rash appears, they’re no longer infectious.
If you suspect your child has slapped cheek syndrome, take them to see a GP and let their school know if they’re diagnosed with it.
• Sore throat
You can still send your child to school if they have a sore throat. But if they also have a high temperature, they should stay at home until it goes away.
A sore throat and a high temperature can be symptoms of tonsillitis.
You don’t need to keep your child off school if they have threadworms.
Speak to your pharmacist, who can recommend a treatment.
• Vomiting and diarrhoea
Children with diarrhoea or vomiting should stay away from school for 2 days after their symptoms have gone.
Communication is KEY
and can resolve problems quickly.
If your child is unwell please inform the school,
if you are having difficulties PLEASE speak to the school