Research has proven irrefutably that students who attend school regularly are far more likely to maximise their educational potential. Additionally, the more time a child spends around other children, whether in a classroom or taking part in extracurricular activities, the more chance they have of making friends and feeling included, boosting social skills, confidence and self-esteem. Whilst the parent is primarily responsible for ensuring their child attends school regularly, the school clearly plays a key role in working with the Local Authority (LA) to help achieve this.
Authorised and Unauthorised Absence
Authorised absence means that the school has either given approval in advance for a pupil of compulsory school age to be away, or has accepted an explanation offered afterwards as justification for absence. Unless exceptional circumstances apply, the only four legitimate reasons for absence are:
Illness of child
Death of a close family member
Urgent medical or dental appointment – routine appointments should be made for out of school hours.
Leaving the premises during the school day
Leaving the school site throughout the day is not permitted for years 7-11 (including break and lunch time). Parents can request that pupils be allowed to leave to attend appointments by writing a letter. This must be authorised by a member of staff and the pupil must then collect a pink off-site slip from reception prior to leaving the school premises.
Holidays in Term Time
Excellent school attendance has been shown to have a direct impact on a child’s attainment with children missing even 1 day a fortnight being over 30% less likely to attain 5 good GCSE’s (Estyn 2014). The school supports the local authority’s approach by taking a firm stance on holidays during term time as this has resulted in improvements in attainment levels and school attendance rates both at Y Pant and across Rhondda Cynon Taf. Approval of absence for family holidays is entirely at the discretion of the school.
If a parent or carer needs to take a child out of school for a holiday then they must complete the Holiday Notification Form and submit this to the school no less than 4 weeks (not including school holidays) before the start date of the holiday.
The school will consider each notification on its own merits and will consider several factors including but not limited to:
• the time of year of the proposed trip;
• length and purpose of the holiday;
• impact on continuity of learning;
• circumstances of the family;
• the overall attendance pattern of the child;
Term time holidays are not generally authorised as pupils’ absence in term time can seriously disrupt their continuity of learning. Not only do they miss the teaching provided on the days they are away, they are also less prepared for the lessons building on that after their return. There is a consequent risk of their under-achievement. Unauthorised holiday absences may be subject to a Fixed Penalty Notice issued by the local authority.
If a child’s attendance is below 98% when the request is made, the school will automatically unauthorise the holiday.