Attendance Policy

/ Policy Document / Attendance Policy

Hawkhurst CEP School is committed to the continuous raising of achievement of all our pupils. Regular attendance is critical if our pupils are to be successful and benefit from the opportunities presented to them.

One of our basic principles is to celebrate success. Good attendance is fundamental to a successful and fulfilling school experience. We actively promote 100% attendance for all our pupils and we use a variety of weekly, termly and annual awards to promote good attendance and punctuality.

The Governors, Headteacher and Staff in partnership with parents have a duty to promote full attendance at Hawkhurst CEP School.

Parental Responsibility

Parents have a legal duty to ensure that their child(ren) attend school regularly and arrive on time. Full attendance is essential to the all round development of the child and they should be allowed to take full advantage of educational opportunities available to them by law. Poor attendance undermines their education and sometimes, puts pupils at risk, encouraging anti-social behaviour.

It is the parents’ responsibility to contact the school on the first day their child is absent. This is a safeguarding issue so that all parties know that your child is safe.

Pupils are expected to arrive by 8.40am. All pupils that arrive late must report, with their parent to the school office where the reason for lateness is recorded.

The Role of the School Staff

The Headteacher has overall responsibility for attendance and is assisted by the Family Liaison Officer (FLO).

Class teachers complete a register at the beginning of each morning and afternoon session. Marking the attendance registers twice daily is a legal requirement. Teachers mark pupils present, absent or late.

It is the responsibility of the FLO to ensure:

  • Attendance and lateness records are up to date
  • If no reason for absence has been provided, parents are contacted on the first day of absence
  • Where there has been no communication, letters are sent to parents requesting reasons for absence with a seven day reply deadline before the absence is unauthorised
  • The appropriate attendance code is entered into the register (National Attendance Codes)
  • Parents informed annually of child’s attendance figure

Timeline of School Action for Low Attendance

  • 95 – 100% attendance – FLO to investigate and notify Headteacher of concerns
  • 90 – 95% attendance – monitored weekly and appropriate action taken.
  • Below 90% – Advise Attendance Service of child’s attendance and consider Attendance Service or Penalty Notice where the absences have not been authorised.
  • Below 85% – immediate referral by Headteacher to Attendance Service.

Children Missing Education

No child may be removed from the school roll without consultation between the Headteacher and the Attendance Service. Where a child is missing from education, Local Authority guidance should be followed.


At Hawkhurst CEP School the register is taken at 8.40am and 1.25pm. Pupils arriving after these times must enter school by the main entrance and report to reception where their name and reason for lateness will be recorded. The pupil will be marked as late before registration has closed (Code ‘L’).

The register will close at 8.55am and 1.30pm. Pupils arriving after the register has closed will be marked as late after registration (Code ‘U’) and this will count as an unauthorised absence.

Frequent lateness will be discussed with parents at open evenings and may be referred to the Family Liaison Officer (FLO) and/or Education Welfare Officer (EWO). It can provide grounds for prosecution or Penalty Notice.

Penalty Notice Proceedings for Lateness

  • 10 incidents of late arrival after the registers have closed in a term. This applies to the periods September to December, January to March and April to July. This may lead to a referral to the Attendance Service (AS) for a Penalty Notice Warning Letter
  • The Penalty Notice Warning Letter sets out 15 school days during which no unauthorised absence is to be recorded
  • If unauthorised absence is recorded during the 15 day period, Penalty Notice(s) will be issued (one per parent per child)
  • Where a Penalty Notice is not paid within 28 days of issue, AS may instigate court proceedings

Authorising Absence

Only the Headteacher can authorise absence for approved reasons. Where there is doubt, the Headteacher, on behalf of the governing body, should take a consistent approach. The absence must be unavoidable. The Headteacher is not obliged to accept a parent’s explanation and if the absence is not authorised, parents will be notified.

Authorised absence codes will only be used after there has been some communication between the parent and school.

The following reasons are examples of the kinds of absence that will not be authorised:

  • Persistent non specific illness e.g. poorly/unwell
  • Absence of siblings if one child is ill
  • Oversleeping
  • Inadequate clothing/uniform
  • Confusion over school dates
  • Medical/dental appointments of more than half a day without very good reasons
  • Child’s/family birthday
  • Shopping trip

Attendance and Lateness

If a new pupil has a history of poor attendance at their previous school, there will be a pre-start attendance meeting held. The school has a ‘five-step’ approach to monitoring absence and lateness. It will not always be appropriate to progress through all of these steps or even to carry them out in the order listed. Responsible staff will use discretion and discuss each case carefully.

‘Five Steps’

  1. Where there has been no contact from parents, first day calling for all pupils and FLO visits as appropriate.
  2. Discussion with EWO or Attendance Service Duty Staff to identify pupils with attendance below 90%, monitoring trends in pupil attendance and lateness, allocation of FLO support.
  3. Invitation to meet with school staff
  4. Initiate a Common Assessment (CAF)
  5. Referral to Attendance Service

Reasons for absence are recorded and retained by the school. When a referral to the Attendance Service is made, the child’s Registration Certificate, copies of all letters sent to parents and minutes of any meetings MUST be attached to the completed AS1 referral form with any other relevant information.

Local Authority Action

Where there is no improvement in a pupil’s attendance and/or there is at least 10 sessions (5 days) absence in a term the school will consider the following:

Education Welfare Officer Actions

This may include:

  • Home visits
  • multi agency meetings
  • Sign posting to supportive agencies e.g. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Social Services and Family Group Conference Service.
  • Fast Track to Prosecution

Penalty Notices for Poor Attendance

  • Penalty Notices are issued in accordance with the Attendance Service Code of Conduct.
  • The Attendance Service issue a warning letter setting out 15 school days during which no unauthorised absence is to be recorded.
  • If unauthorised absence is recorded during the 15 day period a Penalty Notice will be issued (one per parent per child)

Penalty Notices will be issued in the following circumstances:

  • Truancy
  • Parentally-condoned absences
  • Persistent lateness after the register has closed
  • Being present in a public place without reasonable justification during the first 5 days of any fixed term or permanent exclusion.

Where Penalty Notices are imposed, the regulations state that the penalty will be £120 to be paid within 28 days, reduced to £60 if paid within 21 days. Penalty notices are issued to each parent of each child. Failure to pay the penalty in full by the end of the 28 day period may result in prosecution by the Local Authority.

Leave of Absence/Holiday

Time off school for family holidays is not permitted. Headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances such as:

  • For service personnel and other employees who are prevented from taking holidays outside term-time if the holiday will have minimal disruption to the pupil’s education;
  • When a family needs to spend time together to support each other during or after a crisis.
  • Applications for Leave of Absence MUST be made at least 4 weeks in advance of the requested date.

Agreement to each request is at the discretion of the Headteacher, acting on behalf of the Governing Body (Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006). Each case will be judged on its merits in line with the criteria outlined above. If leave is granted the Headteacher should determine the number of school days a child can be away from school. The Headteacher’s decision is final and once the decision to not authorise the leave is taken, it cannot be authorised retrospectively.

If the absence is not authorised and the holiday is taken anyway, the case will be referred to the Attendance Service who will issue a Penalty Notice for £120 (or £60 if paid within 28 days) to each parent for each child taken out of school.

Penalty Notice Proceedings for Unauthorised Holiday Absence

  • Penalty Notices are issued in accordance with the Attendance Service Code of Conduct.
  • AS receives a request for an unauthorised holiday of 10 or more school sessions (5 days)
  • AS issue Penalty Notice(s) (one per parent per child)
  • If Penalty Notice(s) is/are not paid within 28 days of issue, AS may instigate court proceedings