- Our learners are often those who have become acutely dis-engaged from learning and as such are often those who have very poor records of attendance.
- Regular and punctual school attendance is of paramount importance in ensuring that all children have full access to the curriculum. Valuable learning time is lost when children are absent or late. Children should be at school, on time, every day the school is open unless the reason for the absence is unavoidable. Permitting absence from school without a good reason is an offence by the parent.
- We have a commitment to actively pursue each pupil’s attendance by a system of daily phone calls home.
- Children are sometimes reluctant to attend school. Any problems with regular attendance are best sorted out between Releasing Potential, the parents and the child. If a child is reluctant to attend, we will endeavour to be as flexible as possible in order to encourage their participation, eg home visits, considering a one to one programme. It is never better to cover up their absence or to give in to pressure to excuse them from attending. This gives the impression that attendance does not matter and may make things worse.
- Releasing Potential uses the attendance codes set out by West Sussex County Council LA, with additional indicators of RP-specific contexts such as ‘Student seen at home did not come out’.
- Releasing Potential sometimes takes students home who are not emotionally able to manage the day at school. In these cases the absence will be recorded as ‘Sick’. Judgements are made by tutors on a case by case basis in terms of whether a student taken home due to challenging behaviour is recorded as an exclusion or sickness. Where a student is taken home early for any reason, parents are informed immediately. If a parent is not at home when the student arrives, staff will wait with them until parent/carer is present.
– Every half-day absence has to be classified by RP, NOT THE PARENTS, as either AUTHORISED or UNAUTHORISED. This is why information about the cause of each absence is always required.
- Parents/carers keeping children off school unnecessarily
- Truancy before or during the school day
- Absences which have never been properly explained
- Children who arrive at school too late to get a present mark
- Releasing Potential works to maintain good working relationships with parents and carers and to this end will arrange home visits when unauthorised absence continues for more than two consecutive days, or a pattern of unauthorised absences is identified
- Registers are updated twice daily on a computerised system, and are reported to the commissioning authority weekly by email.
- Authorised absences are mornings or afternoons away from school for a reason such as genuine illness of the pupil or unavoidable cause.
- Unauthorised absences are those which RP does not consider reasonable and for which no “leave” has been given.
Process for managing absence
- The school identifies that a child is not in school.
- A staff member telephones the child’s home to seek reasons for the absence and reassurance from parent/carer that the child is safe at home.
- If there is no answer the staff member making the call should consider, with the Safeguarding Lead, the degree of vulnerability of the child.
- If the parent answers and the child is not safe and well with them, the staff member should advise the patent to contact all people and places the child is known to be in contact with to tell them that the child is missing and ask them to help find the child by providing any information which may shed light on the child’s whereabouts;
- Contact the family GP, A&E centres near the child’s home and school in case s/he has sustained an injury and been taken in for treatment.
- Contact the local police station to inform them the child is missing.
- Assessing a child’s vulnerability: immediate response
- Staff should ask themselves the following questions:
- Is there good reason to believe that the child may be the victim of a crime?
- Does the child have a formal child protection plan?
- Is the child in care?
- Is there a person present in or visiting the family who poses an ongoing risk to children or who is suspected of harming child?
- Is there a history of mobility?
- Are there immigration issues?
- Have parents been subject to proceedings in relation to attendance?
- Is there a history of poor attendance?
- In which age range is the child? Younger children are more at risk.
- Is this sudden or unexpected behaviour?
- Have there been any past concerns about the child associating with significantly older young people or adults?
- Has the child been a victim of bullying?
- Are there health reasons to believe the child is at risk?
- Has the child gone missing with their family?
- Are there cultural or religious reasons to believe the child is at risk eg forced marriage or rites of passage planned?
- Have there been past concerns about this child and family which together with the sudden disappearance are worrying, eg know history of drug or alcohol dependency within the family, known history of domestic violence?
If the answer to any of these is yes, the LA children’s social care should be informed and reporting to the Police should be considered.
If the School can obtain no information about the child or family on Day One, and there is reason to believe the child is at risk of harm, the LA children’s social care should be informed and reporting to the Police should be considered.
If the judgement reached on Day One is that there is no reason to believe the child is at risk of harm, then the school may well delay further action.
Days two to twenty-eight
- If the judgement on Day One is that there is no reason to believe that the child is at risk of harm, and the School delays further action, the process of reasonable enquiry should be repeated for up to 4 weeks.
- If the School has enough information to judge that the child is not at risk of harm, however the child has not attended for 10 days and the absence is unauthorised, the LA education welfare service and or LA child protection adviser should be informed.
Child missing from school for more than four weeks
- If a child continues to be missing from school for four weeks and the Local Authority has exhausted enquiries and has been unable to locate the pupil and her/his family, the child can be removed from the school roll and details of the child uploaded to the DfES Lost Pupil Database.
- If concerns remain in relation to the safety of the child, the LA education welfare service should continue to pursue reasonable enquiries and missing person activity. The DSL will follow up with the education welfare service to acquire updates for our files.