Supporting good attendance at Teignmouth Community School
There is a strong link between regular attendance and good attainment. Regular attendance is important for your child because:
- Regular attenders make better progress, both socially and educationally.
- Regular attenders find school routines, schoolwork, and friendships easier to manage.
- Regular attenders find learning more satisfying.
- Regular attenders settle into school more easily.
- Regular attenders enjoy improved social, educational, and work opportunities later in life.=
In short, regular attendance is more likely to make the pupil’s school experience easier and more valuable both in the short and the long term.
Aims of our approach
Teignmouth Community School strives to provide a consistent attendance practice that actively encourages and supports the regular attendance of all our pupils (wherever possible). We take a whole-school approach to maintaining and improving regular attendance. We will endeavour to work in partnership with families and agencies to make sure that any problems or barriers to pupil attendance are given the right attention and support at the earliest opportunity.
Our approach to improving pupil attendance is supported by our policies including Attendance Policy, Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy and our Conduct and Expectations Policy. By effectively managing pupil absence we look to support our pupils (your children) in making the most of the educational and life opportunities available to them. We want your child to thrive.
The Law and ‘regular attendance’
The starting point for the legal requirements regarding pupil attendance at school is Section 7 of The Education Act (1996) This states:
The Education Act (1996)
Section 7 – Duty to ensure Children receive a suitable education.
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable –
(a) to his age, ability, and aptitude, and
(b) to any special educational needs, he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise
This means… that if your child is registered at TCS then as parents/carers, you have a legal duty to ensure that your child attends punctually every day that the school is open to them (unless the absence is recognised and evidenced as unavoidable)
The School Day and Punctuality
Morning registers open at 8:45 am
Pupils who arrive after this time but within the registration period will be marked as late (L Code). Please be aware that repeated Late (L) codes can result in break time detentions. This includes L codes for lessons, so our students are encouraged to be punctual throughout the day.
Morning registers close at 9:15 am
The school day ends at 3.15pm
Legally, all schools must set a time that they formally close their registers. Pupils who arrive after the registers close must go straight to Student Reception to sign in before attending their class.
Pupils arriving after the register closes will be marked as excessively late (U Code). DfE (Department for Education) guidance states that the U Code is an unauthorised absence for the entire session. This means that the school registers will show that pupil as being absent for the entire morning (or afternoon) session.
Being on time is an important habit for life, not just school. Left unchallenged poor punctuality habits often develop into poor attendance habits. For this reason, TCS will regularly challenge pupils and parents/carers where punctuality habits start to show concern.
As an unauthorised absence, cases of persistent excessive lateness (U Codes) can also be challenged through the Local Authority and lead to the instigation of legal proceedings.
Please support TCS in ensuring that your child attends regularly and punctually.
Leaving Site and Safeguarding
To help us keep your child safe, and so that we know where our pupils are, any pupil leaving the school site must have the authorisation of the school and they must sign out at the Student Reception.
We also require that any child who feels that they need to leave the school site, first speaks to Student Reception. Student Reception can then explore the reasons and contact parents as appropriate. This helps us safeguard your child and allows us to explore and prevent the habit of avoidance. If your child feels that they need to avoid something at school or if there is a genuine medical need, this is something that school and parents should explore together. Bypassing this request and collecting your child without us contacting you will result in the absence being UNAUTHORISED. In short, the collection of pupils must be sanctioned by school.
Requesting Term Time Absence
This School has adopted the Local Authority Code of Conduct in respect of leave of absence in term time. All parents who wish to take their child out of school for any reason (other than medical reasons) should complete a Leave of Absence Request Form (S2). This form can also be obtained by pupils (or by contacting) Student Services.
Please note, the school does not accept e-copies. Completed requests for term time leave must be submitted to the school in a hard copy format and must be submitted at least 3 weeks in advance of the absence. Retrospective requests will not be accepted. If a form is not submitted (or not submitted giving the required notice), then unless the Head Teacher deems the circumstances as exceptional, the absence will be UNAUTHORISED.
The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations (2006)
Regulation 7 of The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations (2006)
states the three important criteria for Schools when considering requests for Authorised Term Time Absence, these criteria are:
- The leave request must be made in advance,
- The request should come from the parent with whom the pupil normally resides,
- The request should be supported by evidence of the exceptional circumstances relating to it.
Authorising Term Time Absence
The 2006 Pupil Regulations and the Government intention is very clear – for a request for Term Time Absence to be authorised, it must evidence that the request meets the criteria of exceptional circumstances.
The Law does not grant parents/carers a right to take their children out of school during term time. The Law only allows Head Teachers to authorise the request when they have evidence of the exceptional circumstance.
The Government is very clear that a family holiday is NOT an exceptional circumstance.
Please Note: If the S2 request is refused and the parents/carers proceed with the leave of absence, the school is expected to refer the absence to the Local Authority. The Local Authority could then (in line with the Local Authority Code of Conduct) issue a Penalty Notice to both parents/carers for each child who is absent. Failing to pay a Penalty Notice can lead to a Court Summons (which could result in a criminal conviction which can have far reaching consequences that need to be considered).
Please Note: If an S2 request has not been completed by parents/carers to bypass the system, or where the school has been given a reason for an absence that it feels is not genuine, then the Head Teacher will have no choice but to unauthorise the absence and refer to the Local Authority. An example of this might be where social media contradicts the reasons given or, let us face facts, your children are likely to give the game away upon their return to school. We are striving to develop honest and open relationships with our children and families, please support us in achieving this.
If you have any questions about taking holidays in term time, please contact our Attendance Team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to report an absence or an illness
Most cases of absence are due to illness and are short term. When a child is to be absent from school without prior permission, parents/carers should inform the school at the earliest opportunity on the morning of each day’s absence (this is a safeguarding requirement to protect your child) and let them know the reasons for the absence and the date that you expect the child to return to school.
Parents/carers should contact the school by 9.30am via phone on 01692 774091 or email StudentServices@teignmouthschool.co.uk
Prolonged or frequent absence
For prolonged absence or where there is an illness that will likely have an impact on attendance, we strongly encourage parents to make contact as soon as possible and to work with us to limit the impact upon learning. Medical evidence (if you have it, or it can be obtained) helps the school. Schools are accountable and must justify poor absence levels to the Local Authority and the Government. We must explain why your child is absent, please support us in this. Also, providing this evidence can help the Head Teacher make an informed decision as to whether it is appropriate to authorise an absence or not.
Medical or dental appointments
Parents/carers should make every effort to ensure that these appointments are made outside of school hours. Where it cannot be avoided pupils should attend school for as much of that day as possible. To help the Head Teacher decide if it is appropriate to authorise the absence, it is recommended that an appointment card (or similar) is passed to the school.
Missing Lessons (truanting)
The school will take disciplinary action against any pupil/s who are discovered to be truanting. (link to Conduct and Expectations Policy, Policies Page). Parents/carers will be contacted to discuss the reasons for the truancy and to discuss school expectations and school support systems that could help.
Parental support is expected in this instance. Our school takes the safety of your child seriously. To help keep your child safe they need to be in the place/lesson that they are expected.
Who to contact with any absence concerns?
The first port of call for parents/carers when looking to discuss pupil absence are Mrs Debbie Lewis, Student Reception, Deputy Team Leader
Should this prove unsuccessful matters can be escalated to Mrs Jackie Moore, Student Reception Team Manager, Attendance Officer
The Senior Lead for Attendance is Mr Billy Lee, Deputy Headteacher and Designated Safeguarding Lead
Working Together to Support Attendance
There are times when attendance becomes a concern for young people and this can become very distressing for families. With some young people finding it difficult to explain what their barriers are to attending school, parents/carers will sometimes not know what to do or whom to talk to. To discuss how we work together to support your child’s learning, please complete our Working Together to support attendance form and a member of staff will contact you.
Please remember that early communication between families and school regarding any attendance issues will support early intervention, which will always give the best possible chance of helping a young person to attend school regularly.
If you have additional concerns around your child’s mental health and wellbeing, please see our Mental Health and Wellbeing page.
What are the potential legal penalties for absence?
Unauthorised Absences could result in the instigation of Local Authority Parental Responsibility Measures. These could include a Penalty Notice, an Education Supervision Order (ESO) or a summons from the Magistrates Court.
Penalty Notice. Penalty Notices can only be issued in line with the Local Authority Code of Conduct (September 2023). From September 2013, if a Penalty Notice is issued, each Penalty Notice will be for £60 and should be paid within 21 days. The Penalty Notice increases to £120 if paid from day 21 through til day 28. If a Penalty Notice goes unpaid after 28 days a Magistrates summons will be issued.
Education Supervision Order. This is where the Local Authority applies to the Family Court for a Court Order to support and manage improved regular attendance.
Magistrates Summons. For a first offence the maximum fine issued by the Court could be £1000 per parent/carer. If the matter returns to the Magistrates Court on a subsequent occasion the fines can extend to a maximum of £2500 per parent/carer and/or a custodial sentence of up to 3 Months.
For more information on Devon County Council policy on School absence legal measures and penalty notices
For more information on the Devon County Council Penalty Notice Code of Conduct