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Westlands Community Primary School


Central to raising standards in education and ensuring all pupils can fulfil their potential is an assumption so widely understood that it is insufficiently stated – 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
  • 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

Reporting an absence

If a child is going to be absent from school, parents should report the absence to the school stating the reason for the absence.  They should continue to call in on each subsequent day of absence and after three days, we require medical evidence for the absence.  If a parent fails to report the absence to the school or the reason for the absence is not considered to be justifiable, the absence will be recorded as UNAUTHORISED. Children should NOT be absent for any minor illness.

To report an absence, parents can either use the ‘report absence’ facility on Parentmail, telephone 01245 251700 Option 1 or email to attendance@westlands.essex.sch.uk stating child’s full name, class and the reason for absence.

Minor Illnesses

 Illnesses defined by the NHS as common or minor do not necessitate absence from school. Parents should be aware that their children can attend school with colds, sore throats and headaches and will be challenged by school staff if they report their child as absent for these reasons.

Registers and Lateness

The school day begins at 8:45am and children should be outside their classroom before this time ready to go in as soon as the classroom door is opened.  Teachers will then call the register.  It is expected that all registers will be called by 9:00am at the latest and any child arriving after this will receive an L or ‘late mark’  The office staff will begin to make calls to ascertain the whereabouts of absent children from 9:00am.  Registers formally close partway through the first lesson of the day and if a child arrives after this, they will be marked with a U code (unauthorised absence for the morning session) and this will impact on the child’s overall absence percentage.  This is because the child’s education is going to be negatively impacted because the first part of the lesson when the teacher provides the input and explains the learning has now been missed.

The afternoon register is taken at 1:15pm. 

Parents should not expect to take their child out of school during any part of the school day to attend appointments (unless they are for the child and could not be otherwise scheduled – in this, we require proof of the appointment) or because parents have a delivery, engineer attending the house etc.  The expectation is that parents schedule such things so that they do not affect their child’s attendance or alternatively arrange for another adult to collect the child at the end of the day (in which case, parents must telephone the school to advise them who is going to be collecting).

The school will operate a ‘late gate’ from time to time to challenge children and/or parents arriving at school late.

Holidays in Term Time

There is no entitlement to take holiday during term time.  Research shows that the impact of extended leave upon a child’s education is detrimental and one week off school equates to 25 hours of lessons missed.  A child will struggle to be able to catch up on that amount of missed schooling. Leave of absence for a child due to ‘exceptional circumstances’ is rarely granted and never for extended leave.  The school contracts Aquinas to begin the legal process when parents take children out of school for the purpose of holiday during term time.  This can lead to prosecutions that carry a maximum fine of £2500, up to a three month custodial sentence and a criminal record.

Persistent Absence

The school monitors absences very carefully.  Once a child’s absence rate falls below 90%, the child is classed as a persistent absentee and the school passes the case over to Aquinas who we contract to address the concern. If a child’s absence falls below 50%, the child is classed as a severe absentee and this triggers an emergency response; the school will begin to involve a wider range of professionals to address the concern.

If a child’s attendance falls below 90%, the school, working with Aquinas, begins to look at the case and starts to follow a process. This includes:

  • Class teachers calling to explain to the parent or carer what learning has been missed and discussing with them how this can be ‘caught up’ and what steps parents should take to support in this.
  • Safeguarding officers conducting home visits.
  • Warning letters issued which may lead to a formal School Attendance Meeting. A formal School Attendance Meeting (SAM) is attended by parents, the School Attendance Officer, an Aquinas consultant, a member of the safeguarding team and the class teacher or a member of the Senior Leadership Team.
  • The start of legal proceedings.

Missing in Education

 If a child is absent from school and the parent/carer has not reported the absence in line with school policy and either we have concerns about the safety of the child or the absence has continued for several days, we have a duty to make a referral to the Local Authority and begin the process of a joint investigation. As with all concerns regarding children, we will follow our safeguarding procedure.  Children deemed as ‘missing in education’ may be removed from the school roll although the investigation into the child’s whereabouts will always continue.

Authorised absence

Occasions when children should be kept off from school are:

  • when a child is vomiting or has diarrhoea and then parents should keep the child off for a period of 48 hours after the last episode of sickness/diarrhoea.
  • when a child has a contagious disease for example, chicken pox, that requires an exclusion period. The school will set the expected return date with the parent.

Attendance linked Documents