Attendance Matters 2017 – Taking Students Out of School
It is well known that missing school for any reason can cause a child to fall behind in their learning. Sometimes children also find it difficult to settle back into school after a break.
In the longer term, evidence shows that reduced levels of attendance are likely to affect the progress of any child, whatever their needs or ability, and can also result in lower levels of qualifications being achieved.
It is also proven that students with poor attendance at school are far more likely to be involved with, or victims of, crime or anti-social behavior.
It is therefore very important that we take our legal responsibility, to ensure that students engage with education, seriously. Stretford High School is committed to raising the levels of achievement for all children and young people and to ensuring that all children get the maximum benefit from their time at school.
Stretford High School has an excellent history of establishing and maintaining outstanding attendance.
Recently we have had an increase in the number of applications for ‘special circumstances’ leave or holidays. The following gives advice to parents and carers about requesting leave of absence to enable them to remove their child from school for a period of time.
We strongly encourage parents / carers to take holidays with their children during the school holidays, rather than during term time. Leave of absence for any reason should only be requested in the most exceptional circumstances. Medical appointments and dental checks should be organised whenever possible for after school / school holidays. Remember that lateness to school also constitutes absence if a student arrives after the register has closed (currently 9.15am but will change to 9.00am on Sept 1st 2017).
What does the law say?
It is sometimes thought that parents have a right to take children out of school for up to ten days a year for the purpose of taking holidays. This is in fact a myth, and there never has been a right to remove children from school for the purpose of a holiday at all.
In 2013 the Government took further steps to discourage holidays in term time. It passed legislation abolishing the right of schools to authorise up to ten days a year specifically for holidays.
This means that from September 2013 leave of absence for any reason can only be granted if the school is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist.
Even then, school is likely to refuse permission, especially if your child has a poor attendance record, your child is in Year 11, or if the holiday is at a particularly important time, such as in the run up to exams or at the start of a new school year.
What should I do if I wish to request leave of absence?
Absence request forms are available from student services. We would strongly recommend that you do this before planning any leave of absence. If the absence is due to visiting a sick relative, while this does satisfy the ‘exceptional circumstances’ ruling, proof of the sickness will be required.
What happens if my child goes on holiday in term time or takes leave of absence for other reasons without permission from the school?
In a recent Supreme Court decision (April 2017) a parent was found to be guilty of a criminal offence for failing to ensure that his child attended school ‘regularly’. The rule for regular attendance can be decided by the school and is considered to be 95% at Stretford High School.
If the holiday is taken without authorization the absences will be marked in the school register as unauthorised holiday (G or O on the register) and this may result in fixed penalty fines of £60 (rising to £120) per parent per child being issued by the Local Authority. In some cases, parents may be prosecuted for the offence of failure to ensure regular attendance at school.
The school will issue fines if unauthorised absence causes the child to drop below the school average value of 95%, if an authorised holiday extends beyond 10 school days, or if permission has not been requested.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank supportive parents and carers who make sure their children attend school regularly and on time. The school attendance currently stands at 95.3%. Thank you to every child and their parents / carers who meet our expectations and / or exceed it. We are working together to achieve success.
Deputy Head Teacher