Letters – Absence Guidelines

Staffordshire County Council – Absence letter

Families First
Staffordshire County Council
2 Staffordshire Place
Tipping Street
Stafford
ST16 2DH
Email: paul.senior@staffordshire.gov.uk

Please ask for: Paul Senior

Date: 21September 2017

Changes to Penalty Notices for Absence from School

    Ensuring your child has access to a good education is very important to us.

A key part of this is for all children and young people to regularly attend school, as this gives each learner the best chance to achieve their full potential. In light of the recent Isle
of Wight court case and the subsequent Supreme Court ruling on school absences, we wanted to clarify our position for parents where there may be the potential for any ambiguity and to also ensure we are fully compliant with legal requirements.

As a result, we have made a few changes to our previous guidance to schools, parents and carers regarding absence from school. The new guidance will come into force from 1 January 2018 and is detailed below:

    Penalty Notice for leave of absence (holiday) in term time

From 1 January 2018 any period of unauthorised leave may result in you as a parent receiving a penalty notice fine. Your head teacher will continue to be the only person able
to authorise leave in term time, but this will apply only in exceptional circumstances. Any unauthorised absence will be referred by your head teacher to the local authority.

    Penalty Notice for persistent lateness

Previously a pupil had to achieve 20 unauthorised late marks before a penalty notice warning could be issued. This has now changed to 10 marks, and late marks do not have to be one after the other in order for the penalty notice to be issued. You are therefore encouraged where possible to ensure your child attends school on time. However, if your child is late you must inform the school of the reason(s) why, as they may be able to offer you some form of advice or support.

    Period of time used to measure persistent absence and lateness

If your child has had 10 days unauthorised absence or is late 10 times over a twelve week period, you may receive a penalty warning notice and also potentially a fine.

These changes have been agreed with local head teachers and have been implemented to help promote and support good attendance to school. Further details and a copy of the revised Code of Conduct for issuing Penalty Notices can be obtained from the council’s website www.staffordshire.gov.uk/education.

The vast majority of children and young people in Staffordshire have an excellent record of school attendance, and we recognise the efforts of so many parents to ensure their children attend school regularly.

The Local Authority will continue to take appropriate action for absences during term time when we are notified by head teachers, both to support them in their role and to ensure local children can continue to achieve the best possible outcomes from attending local schools.

Yours faithfully
Paul Senior
Head of Education Vulnerable Learner Services 0-25

Changes to Absence Leave Guidelines – November 2017

November 2017

Dear Parent/Carer

Statutory Guidelines Regarding Leave of Absence.

Each academic year we are advised to remind parents regarding the regulations on leave of absence from school.

Despite recent media interest in this issue, please be aware there have been no changes to Head teacher’s guidance in this matter. Statutory guidelines state that the ‘Head teacher may not grant leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.’

Requests for leave in exceptional circumstancesshould be made in advance of the event and in writing. Specific details should be included such as dates and should be addressed to Miss L. Wainwright. Should the request be for other planned absences, such as participation in sporting or other educational representative activities, the same procedure should be followed. We will require documentation regarding this, such as a copy of the selection letter or confirmation of an exam date. If a leave of absence is granted, then it will be for a fixed period of time. Regulations are clear that any lateness in the return to school may be deemed as unauthorised leave of absence.

If a parent does not apply for leave, but we believe that the pupil has been taken on holiday, then we will contact the parent to express our concern. The parent will be expected to provide contrary evidence to support the absence by a specified date. Should this not be provided then the absence will be coded as unauthorised leave of absence and the relevant procedures will be applied. Retrospective approval for absence cannot be granted.

As a result of the national attention on the fining of parents for taking their child on holiday in school term time, the County Council have reviewed the rules around unauthorised leave of absence and issuing penalty notices to parents. Please find attached the county letter which clarifies the full changes to penalty notices. As a result of this, the school has also reviewed its procedures. From 1st January 2018, students who are taken out of school for 5 or more consecutive days without authorisation will receive a penalty notice.

Should a fixed penalty notice be issued, the fine applies to per parent/carer and per child. This is regardless of who has applied for the leave.

    Currently parents have 3 choices:

  • A fine of £60 if paid within 21 days
  • A fine of £120 is paid after 21 days but within 28 days
  • In the case of non-payment of the fine then Notice will be withdrawn and will trigger the fast track prosecution process under the provisions of Section 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996. If found guilty then this would result in a criminal record for that parent.

This letter is for information only, we recognise that parents/carers work hard to ensure that their child/children attend school on a regular basis and we appreciate your support.

Yours sincerely
Miss L Wainwright (Assistant Principal) Mrs J. Hingley (Principal)

Sir Thomas Boughey Academy Sir Thomas Boughey Academy

The Statutory Guidelines Regarding Leave of Absence Reply Slip is contained in the pdf.