Missing school for just a few days a year can damage students’ chances of gaining good GCSEs, according to reports published by the Department for Education (you can read the reports here and here). We believe that every student at Thorpe deserves the best possible chance and so we expect every student to attend every day of the academic year. However, we also recognise that on some rare occasions, your child might be too ill to come in to school.
We open our gates to our students at 8.00 am and expect them to be in their form rooms by 8.25 am. Our School day lasts until 3.05 pm, though many of our students stay on for after-school activities. It is our aim that every student in the school should benefit from a 100% attendance figure.
If a student is taken ill during the school day, they should not contact home themselves. The BEST for their Year Group will deal with the situation, contacting home and discussing the matter with parents. In our experience, most incidents can be managed in school and the student can return to their learning. Rarely, we may contact home to request that the student be collected and taken home.
If your child is not able to come in to school, you should contact the Attendance Office before 8.30 am, on 01603 497722 or send an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will need your child’s full name, Year Group and the reason for their absence in as much detail as possible. If they have diarrhoea and/or vomiting, you are required to keep them away from school for 48 hours after the last symptom – please make clear to us when that was.
If you do not phone us with a reason for absence and your child is registered as not being in school, we will send you a text message. Please follow the instructions in the message to update your child’s record. We may also ‘phone you to discuss the absence. We have a duty of care for all our students and an unexplained absence requires that we act quickly to establish that the student is safe.
It is your legal duty to make sure that your child attends school on time every day (see the Education Act (1996) Section 444). We work with Norfolk County Council’s Attendance Team to make sure that we keep our students safe and well, and we follow Trust policies regarding attendance.
We monitor our students’ punctuality, both to school in the morning and to lessons. Our gates open at 8am, and close at 8:25am. Students arriving after 8:25am will be registered as “late”. A student arriving after 9.00 am will be registered as “U”, (Late, after registers have closed) – this will count as an unauthorised absence in the student’s attendance data. Persistent lateness could result in the County Council taking legal action against parent(s) who fail to get their child(ren) to school on time.
Leave of Absence (including in-term Holiday requests)
We will authorise requests for leave of absence for certain very specific reasons. We are happy to authorise a student’s absence if it is to attend a wedding, a funeral, a graduation or other similar (unmovable) ceremony. Requests for LOA in any other circumstance will usually be declined, and the consequent absence recorded as unauthorised.
We do not authorise any holiday request unless there are rare and exceptional circumstances offered, and we may refer holiday requests to the County Council for their consideration. The Council may apply to the courts for a Fixed Penalty Notice.
We will, under certain extenuating circumstances, sanction leave of absence, for example to take part in a scheduled sporting competition.
Medical, Dental and Opticians Appointments should, where possible, be scheduled in the weeks during Half Term and End of Term breaks. We realise that hospital appointments are “non-negotiable”, so will sanction absence to attend the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.
If we detect reasons for your child’s attendance indicating an underlying medical condition, we will contact you to request that you seek medical advice, and then provide us with some evidence of your consultation. This evidence could be in the form of a photo of the pharmacy sticker on prescribed medication, or a discharge letter from a hospital. We may need to discuss any medical conditions that present in a student so that we can keep them safe and healthy during their time in school.
Support with Attendance
Each Year Group has its dedicated BEST, who will work with families to help students maintain a strong attendance record. The BEST is supported by the Attendance Team, who staff the attendance phoneline and inbox, and who maintain our complex registration systems.
Where there is an identified attendance problem, the BEST will implement strategies which will support and encourage improvements to attendance. Our interventions include formal and informal meetings in school to discuss obstacles to attendance, visits to a student’s home, referrals to professional support agencies, formal Attendance Plans, and cooperation with the County’s Attendance Team. If you have a concern about your child’s attendance, you should raise it with the relevant BEST at your earliest convenience. Often, difficulties with attendance can be easily resolved with an early intervention.
Parents can keep track of their children’s attendance through the My Child At School app. This is a “live” service, taking its data directly from the school’s register system.
Attendance data is included in students’ Academic Reports.
We highlight the importance of a strong attendance record in Form Time activities, in our reporting to parents and carers, in our presentations to parents, in our “Thorpe Life” Newsletter, and throughout the school. We link that message with key messages from our Careers Team, highlighting the ways in which a strong attendance record can enhance an application to college, university, an apprenticeship or employment.
The Government remains very clear that no child should miss school apart from in exceptional circumstances and schools must continue to take steps to reduce absence to support children’s attainment.