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Attendance Policy including COVID

At The Wherry School, all staff work collaboratively to encourage every pupil to strive for excellence. Every child will be supported, challenged and valued. One way in which we strive to do this is by encouraging staff, parents and children to maximise the learning experiences that the school offers in order that all children reach their maximum potential. We are determined in encouraging the development of high self-esteem and for our children to take pride and ownership of their learning, alongside providing a robust support curriculum that supports the specific skills and knowledge that the pupils require to support their needs relating to their Autism and Communication/Interaction needs.

In conjunction with this, we will continuously provide a clear framework for parents and staff as well as clear procedures for involving parents and/or external agencies where appropriate.  Our policy applies to all children registered at this school and this policy is made available to all parents/carers of pupils that are registered at our school on the school website – Link here

The Wherry School encourages all parents/carers to work in partnership with the school in order to improve attendance and punctuality and recognises that 

“pupils need to attend school regularly to benefit from their education. Missing out on lessons leaves children vulnerable to falling behind. Children with poor attendance tend to achieve less in both primary and secondary school. 

  • The government expects schools and local authorities to: 

  • Promote good attendance and reduce absence, including persistent absence; 

  • Ensure every pupil has access to full-time education to which they are entitled; and, 

  • act early to address patterns of absence. 

  • Parents to perform their legal duty by ensuring their children of compulsory school age who are registered at school attend regularly. 

  • All pupils to be punctual to their lessons. 

Aims & Objectives

The school attendance policy ensures that all staff and governors in our school are fully aware of and clear about the actions necessary to promote good attendance.

Through the school attendance policy we aim to:

  • Improve pupils’ achievement by ensure high levels of attendance and punctuality.

  • Achieve as close to the national expectation of 95% for all pupils, apart from those with chronic health issues, or other evidenced medical reasons, or have bespoke learning packages, e.g. build-up and transition timetables.

  • Create an ethos in which good attendance and punctuality are recognised as the norm and seen to be valued by the school.

  • Raise awareness of parents, carers and pupils of the importance of uninterrupted attendance and punctuality at every stage of a child’s education through regular Academic Review sessions

  • Ensure that our policy applies to all pupils from Reception age children through to end of Key Stage 4 and in to Sixth Form, in order to promote good habits at an early age.

  • Work in partnership with pupils, parents, staff and the Local Authority officers, including social care colleagues and EHCP co-ordinators, so that all pupils realise their potential, unhindered by unnecessary absence.

  • Promote a positive and welcoming atmosphere in which pupils feel safe, secure and valued, and encourage in pupils a sense of their own responsibility.

  • Establish a pattern of monitoring attendance and ensure consistency in recognising achievement and dealing with difficulties.

  • Recognise the key role of all staff in promoting good attendance.

Responsibility of Parents/Carers

Children who are persistently late or absent are likely to quickly fall behind with their learning. Children who are absent from school frequently develop large gaps in their learning which will impact on their progress and their ability to meet age related learning expectations.   The school is aware of the impact of poor attendance on pupil progress and outcomes:

95% = Our Whole School Target for individual pupils attending full-time

  • 90% = Average of 1/2 day a week absences

  • 90% = Persistent Absence is noted – school will discuss with parents at Academic Review about an improvement plan

  • 80% = Average of 1 day a week absent 


It is the parent/carers responsibility:

  • To ensure that their children arrive to school on time. the school main door opens at 8:45am until 9:00am. This is the time of the “taxi window” for taxi arrivals at school; for children where parents take responsibility for transport to arrive at school and get to classrooms. 
  • To ensure children who arrive late after 9:00am report to the school office to sign in. Registers are completed in class at 9:00 – 9:05am. Any child that arrives 9:05 – 9:15 are marked as L in register, after 9:15am will be marked with a U code, equivalent to an unauthorised absence. 
  • To ensure children are collected promptly at the end of the school day and that necessary arrangements are in place for the journey home. If these differ from the child’s normal arrangements, the class teacher and school office should be made aware of this.


It is the parent/carer’s responsibility:

  • To notify the school on the first day of absence before 9:15am or as soon as possible. Parents can report an absence by telephoning the school office or emailing the school.

  • To be able to provide medical evidence where possible, on the child’s return to school, if this is requested.

  • To ensure that as far as possible, medical appointments are arranged for outside school hours. Where this is not possible, parents are expected to provide evidence of the appointment in advance, and the child should, wherever possible, attend school before/after the appointment.

  • To liaise with the school as soon as possible regarding any specific issues that might cause absence or lateness, e.g. a sick parent/carer.

  • Parents/carers of children for whom we do not know the reason for absence will be contacted after 9:30am.

What the school will do:

On the first day of absence: the school will seek to contact parents/carers where the school has not been notified of a reason for absence, or where a child is not in school beyond 9:15am

The school will continue to make contact with a parent/carer where a reason for absence is not established, or where the length of absence exceeds the expected or reported length.

On the 10th day of absence: where the school has not received information regarding absence or where there are concerns regarding the reason for absence, the school will seek advice from the 

Illness/Medical absences

In addition to the points above, if a child is repeatedly absent due to illness, the school may request medical evidence for further absences. This can take the form of a GP appointment card, a consultant letter, a copy of a prescription etc.

The school has access to the support from Complex Needs Nursing Service, who can be used to support with ensuring good attendance alongside appropriate support for medical conditions.

The school can also seek support from the Local Authority Medical Needs team with regards to appropriate attendance and support for pupils with specific medical needs, including mental health concerns and implementing advice from Clinical Psychiatry teams.

Leave of Absence for Holidays

Parents/carers are expected to take their children on holiday during the school holidays to minimise the impact of missing education.

However, we recognise that if there are exceptional circumstances, parents/carers must complete a leave of absence request form in advance of the trip (ideally at least 4 weeks prior). These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Principal/Heads of Primary and Secondary phases, and they will use their discretion whilst applying government recommendations.

It is the parent/carer’s responsibility:

  • To obtain a leave of absence form from the school office.
  • To complete and submit the form in advance of the period of absence (ideally 4 weeks prior).

If parents/carers decide to take a holiday without the relevant authorisation, the child’s absences will be marked as unauthorised. 

Fixed Penalty Notices can be issued by the Local Authority for unauthorised holiday absence during term time. This fine is payable at £60 per child, per parent – see FPN information from Norfolk Local Authority.

Absence for Other Reasons

Absences for reasons such as religious observance (up to 2 days per year) or close family bereavement may be authorised by the school.  These requests must be discussed with the school. Absences for close family members’ weddings or funerals will be limited to one day’s authorised absence, if authorised.

Pupil Absence for the purposes of Religious Observance 

The Wherry School Trust acknowledges the multi-faith nature of British society and recognises that, on some occasions, religious festivals may fall outside school holiday periods or weekends and is recognised as such by a relevant religious authority. Where this occurs, the school will consider either authorising the pupil absence or making special leave for religious observance. Parents are requested to give advance notice to the school.

Traveller Absence 

  • The aim for the attendance of Traveller children, in common with all other children, is to attend school as regularly and as frequently as possible. 

  • To protect Traveller parents from unreasonable prosecution for non-attendance, s. 86 of The Education Act 1944 states that a Traveller parent shall be entitled to be acquitted if his or her child accrues 200 attendances (i.e. 200 half days) during the period of twelve months ending with the date on which the proceedings were instituted, if the family are of no fixed abode. 

  • However, it should be noted that this provision applies only when the family are engaged in a trade or business that requires them to travel and when the child is attending school as regularly as that trade permits. It does not mean that part-time education for Traveller children is legally acceptable, nor does it relieve parents of their duties to ensure that their children are receiving suitable education when not at school. 

  • The school will seek support from a child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) co-ordinator and the Local Authority traveller support team with regards to placement at other schools temporarily while away from their base school; in such cases, the pupil’s school place at The Wherry School will be kept open for them whilst travelling. This is to protect them from unfairly losing their place at their school of usual attendance. 

  • The Wherry School can only effectively operate as the child’s base school if it and the Local Authority is engaged in on-going dialogue with Traveller families. This means that parents must: 

    • Advise the school of their forthcoming travelling patterns as soon as these are known and before they happen; and 

    • Inform the school regarding proposed return dates 

Traveller children will be recorded as attending an approved educational activity when: 

    • The child is on roll and attending another school 

    • Undertaking supervised educational activity under the jurisdiction of another Local Authority’s Traveller Education Service

  1. Where Traveller children are registered pupils at a school and are known to be present either at a site (official or otherwise) or in a house and are not attending school, the absence will be investigated in the same way as that for any pupil. 

It is the parent/carer’s responsibility:

  • To inform the office, in writing, of the need for leave in circumstances which are known in advance.

  • To inform the school as soon as possible when sudden circumstances occur which prevent a family bringing a child to school, so that the appropriate code can be recorded in the register.

Unexplained Absence

When a child is repeatedly absent and no satisfactory reason is given, the parent/carers will be investigated and may be liable for prosecution and/or a fine from the Local Authority.  Regular monitoring is carried out as part of the review of the pupils and the EHCP process. 

Parents/carers of children who have repeated unexplained, unauthorised absences, holidays or otherwise, will be contacted by the school and may be invited in to an attendance meeting to discuss absences and any appropriate support.

A pupil becomes a ‘persistent absentee’ (PA) when their attendance drops to 90% and below for any reason. Over a full academic year this would be 38 sessions (19 days). Absence at this level is causing considerable damage to a child’s educational prospects. 

The attendance of all pupils at our schools are monitored to identify children who are PA, or are on track to becoming PA. Where emerging concerns are identified we will instigate appropriate and timely interventions. Referrals may also be made to external agencies for targeted support. 

If parents fail to engage with support and their child continues to have unsatisfactory attendance/ punctuality, a request may be made to the Local Authority to pursue legal proceedings either through a penalty notice or full prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court.

Parents found guilty in a Magistrates’ Court of failing to secure their child’s regular attendance at school under the provisions of the Education Act 1996, will receive a criminal record and a maximum penalty of a £1000 fine under a Section 444 (1) offence or a £2500 fine or up to a 3 month prison sentence, under a Section 444 (1a) offence.

Persistent Latecomers

Children who repeatedly attend school late after 9:00am will be brought to the attention of the school safeguarding leads and senior leadership. Warning letters may be issued to the parents/carers of these children. 

Parents/carers should note that children who arrive late after 9:15am are given a ‘U’ code, which is the equivalent of an unauthorised absence and this will affect the child’s attendance figures. 

Fixed penalty notices may be issued to parents/carers whose children persistently arrive after this time.

Fixed Penalty Notice information for Parents / Carers 

Fixed Penalty Notices 

With the implementation of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003) the Local Authority has statutory powers to use Penalty Notices to help tackle irregular school attendance and unauthorised absences. 

An unauthorised absence is any absence that the school has not given permission for or the parent/carer has been unable to provide a reason for the absence, which is acceptable to the school. 

The school will discuss with the Local Authority any cases of unauthorised absence and whether the issuing of a Penalty Notice would be appropriate. A Penalty Notice is an alternative to a prosecution to the offence and can be issued when it is felt that parents/carers are failing in their legal responsibility to ensure their child attends school regularly. 

The penalty is in the form of a £60 fine per parent/carer per child payable within 21 days, this increases to £120 payable per parent/carer per child within 28 days. Failure to pay usually results in prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court. 

*(Academic year =school year from September to July) 


Useful Links

Link for the Local Authority FPN advice

Link to Trust Attendance Policy 

Link to DFE Guidance for Schools – July 2019

Link to Absence Codes: - see below 

How we code Attendance and Absence

Attendance Register Absence Categories and Codes

/ - morning present

\ - afternoon present

Other codes for absence: as noted in School attendance; Guidance for maintained schools, academies, independent schools and local authorities – (DFE July 2019)

L – Late

S – Study Leave

Absence Codes

I – Illness

N – No Reason

O – Unauthorised Absence

B – Educated Off-Site

C – Other Authorised Circumstances

D – Dual Registered (at other establishment)

E – Excluded

F – Extended Family Holiday (agreed)

G – Family Holiday (not agreed)

H – Family Holiday (agreed)

J – Interview

M – Medical Appointment

P – Approved Sporting Activity

R – Religious Observance

T – Traveller Absence

U – Late (after registers closed)

V – Educational Visit

W – Work Experience

Y – School unable to open

Z – Code for pre-registered pupils