It is well recognised that good, consistent attendance at school is crucial to a child or young person’s future prospects. Reducing absence from school continues to be a priority both nationally and locally, because missing school damages pupils’ attainment levels, disrupts school routines, affects the learning of others and can leave young people vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and crime. Both locally and nationally, term time holidays continue to be a major cause of absence from school. In the autumn and spring terms 2012/2013 more than 18,000 school days were lost due to authorised term time holidays. This represents 6.3% of all authorised absence in primary schools, and 1.6% of all authorised absence in secondary schools. Term time holidays remain the second most common cause of authorised absence, after illness in Bradford primary schools. Term time holidays that were taken without the permission of the school accounted for almost 23,000 lost school days.
Families will already be aware that the Governors discourage holidays in term time and any so any holidays taken during term time are recorded as unauthorised.
Our School Welfare Officer has advised us that from September 2014 we must follow the guidelines on issuing penalty notices to parents who take their child/ren out of school unauthorised.
Issuing a Penalty Notice is considered appropriate by Education Bradford for poor attendance which has been caused by the following:-
- overt truancy (including pupils caught on truancy sweeps)
- parentally-condoned absences
- unauthorised holidays in term-time
- excessive delayed return from holidays
- persistent late arrival at school (after the Register has closed)
Parents who fail to ensure their children attend school regularly without good reason could:-
- Receive a Penalty Notice Fine of £60 per parent per pupil
- Be prosecuted in the magistrate’s court and be fined up to £1,000
- In more serious offences, where parents have been previously prosecuted they could be fined up to £2,500 or face imprisonment
We know that most of our families try really hard to avoid term time holidays, and that children are poorly from time to time. However, Nessfield has a legal duty to publish its absence figures and to promote attendance. Equally, parents have a duty to make sure that their children attend school for as many of the 190 school days as possible.
Any absence which is not for sickness or medical reasons and which has not been approved by the Headteacher constitutes an unauthorised absence.