At Haverstock we believe passionately that every school day matters in a child’s education. This is backed up by multiple research studies which show how crucial regular attendance is in ensuring young people reach their full potential and develop into confident, well rounded adults who are equipped for life. As we begin the final term of the academic year, I wish to alert you to two key issues which could affect your child’s attendance – Taking your child out of school for a holiday during term time and being absent from school for religious observance.
What is good attendance?
There are 190 school days each year. To ensure a child fully achieves their potential, they should be in school for at least 96% of this time (182 days). If a child is taken out of school for a two week holiday in term time then any further absences e.g. through illness will immediately put that child below the 96% threshold.
As parents and teachers, we all want the very best for the students and the key to this is a good education supported by good attendance. The importance of developing good habits from the onset will set students up for success in their adult lives. However, 96% attendance for the academic year is the equivalent of having eight days off at some point throughout the year. In most working environments this would be unacceptable unless there were underlying health conditions or extenuating circumstances. Therefore, it is vital that you encourage your child to come to school every day and only allow them to be absent if the circumstances are exceptional.
To support your child’s education, it is vital that the school and parents work in partnership. At school we are constantly monitoring and addressing student attendance and we urge that, as parents you do the following:
- Ensure that your child arrives at school on time each day.
- Non urgent medical/dental appointments must be made out of school hours.
- Ensure that your child only misses school for reasons which are unavoidable or justified, such as illness or days of religious observance.
- Always notify the school as soon as possible - preferably on the first morning of any absence.
- Try to avoid booking family holidays during term time.
- Talk to the school if you are concerned that your child may be reluctant to go to school.
Can I take my child out of school for a holiday in term time?
The law does not grant parents an automatic right to take their child out of school during term time. Any absence from school will disrupt your child’s learning. You may consider that a holiday will be educational, but your child will still miss out on the teaching that other students will receive. Children returning from a term time holiday are also unprepared for the lessons that build on the teaching they have missed. Parents/carers should therefore avoid booking family holidays during term time.
The Department for Education only allows a Headteacher discretion to consider an absence/holiday in term time in “special circumstances”. Very few requests fall into this category. If you consider that your request falls into this category, you will need to complete a request for term time absence form. Forms can be obtained from the school reception or alternatively can be found on the school website following the path: http://www.haverstock.camden.sch.uk/the-school/information--policies/request-for-term-time-absence.aspx
Requests for term time leave is done on a case by case basis and the decision to approve will be based on the child’s attendance over the last year. If your child’s attendance is already below 95% then the request for authorisation will be denied. A response will be sent to you as soon as possible. If the request is not considered to be a special circumstance, and you nevertheless take your child out of school, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised.
In the case of an unauthorised absence/holiday, Steve Coupland, our Education Social Worker, will be notified and a Penalty Notice will be issued. Please note that such a penalty is issued to each parent for each child taken out of school. A Penalty Notice is a fine of £120 per parent per child, which reduces to £60 per parent per child if paid within 21 days. If the Penalty Notice remains unpaid after 28 days, this may result in legal action.
Can I take my child out of school for religious observance?
Parents/Carers should again request time off for religious observance using the same request for term time leave process. However, as a large proportion of our school community are Muslim, the school is fully aware that students will want to celebrate Eid at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Therefore, Friday 15th June will be an Inset day to acknowledge this. Parents therefore do not need to request time off for EID but must be aware that this is the only day that will granted for religious observance. The following exams are running on 15th June and ALL students involved in these must attend:
Citizenship Studies 1pm
Computer Science 9am
It is the responsibility of everyone in our school community – parents/carers, students, staff and governors to ensure students have a high level of attendance at school. The school constantly tracks and monitor student attendance and we encourage you to discuss and monitor the attendance of your child. The expectation is for all students to have as close to 100% attendance as possible if they are to achieve their true potential.
Should you wish to discuss your child’s attendance further, please speak to their tutor in the first instance.
Assistant Headteacher - Attendance Lead