St Mary's Church of England Primary School & Nursery

Growing Together in God's Love to Achieve Excellence


Attendance & Absence

For our children to gain the greatest benefit from their education it is vital that they attend regularly and be at school, on time, every day the school is open unless the reason for the absence is unavoidable.The school has a duty to make a child’s time at school interesting and worthwhile.  Parents have a legal duty to make sure that their children attend. There is no automatic entitlement in law to time off in school time to go on holiday. The school is committed to working with parents as the best way to ensure as high a level of attendance as possible. Parents will receive information in their child’s report about the child’s attendance record that year. Very good attendance (100%) is recognised by rewards in line with the school’s Behaviour Policy.

Why Regular Attendance is so important:

Any absence affects the pattern of a child’s schooling and regular absence will seriously affect their learning. Any pupil’s absence disrupts teaching routines so may affect the learning of others in the same class. Ensuring a child’s regular attendance at school is a parental legal responsibility and permitting absence from school without a good reason creates an offence in law and may result in prosecution. In addition, failing to attend this school on a regular basis will be considered as a safeguarding matter.

The Law relating to attendance:

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that ‘the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him/her to receive efficient full time education suitable to age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs he/she may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise’

Understanding types of absence:

Every half-day absence from school has to be classified by the school (not parents), as either AUTHORISED OR UNAUTHORISED. This is why information about the cause of any absence is always required, preferably in writing.

Authorised absences are mornings or afternoons away from school for a good reason such as illness, which unavoidably falls in school time, emergencies or other unavoidable causes. Absences for medical reasons such as appointments can be authorised by the school but wherever possible appointments should be made before/after school or during school holidays as this limits the impact on the child’s education.

Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider reasonable and for which no “leave” has been given. This type of absence can lead to the Education Welfare Officer’s involvement and the potential for legal proceedings being initiated. This includes holidays in term time which have not been agreed. The Local Authority can use sanctions such as Penalty Notices or prosecutions in the Magistrates Court. Full details of the options open to enforce attendance at school are available from the Education Welfare Officer.

Persistent Absenteeism (PA):

A pupil becomes a ‘persistent absentee’ when they miss 10% or more schooling across the school year for whatever reason. Absence at this level is doing considerable damage to any child’s educational prospects and we seek parents’ fullest support and co-operation to tackle persistent absence. Where a child’s attendance is a concern parents are informed. The school investigates all attendance which is causing concern and provides appropriate support to improve attendance. All PA cases are automatically sent to the Local Authority.

Absence Procedures

Illness and other legitimate reasons:

If a child is unfit for school, parents should contact the school on the first day, in person or by phone. Where the parent, on the first day of absence, has not communicated to school the reason for non-attendance the school telephones the parents. Where a child’s absence is prolonged i.e. three or more days parents should update the school regularly. When the child returns to school, they must bring a written note signed by a parent for each period of absence.  Absences will not be authorised without this procedure.  Other reasons for absence must be discussed with the school each time.  Leave may be granted in an emergency, which must be in school time, provided a written explanation is received.

Application for Authorised Leave:

Attendance at school is a legal requirement and the Governing Body has agreed that authorised absence in term time will only be considered on compassionate grounds and/or in exceptional circumstances.

Application for authorised leave in term time must be by personal application to the Headteacher and on completion on 'Application for authorised absesnce form' found below. Each request for authorised absence will be considered individually. Leave may be authorised if the Headteacher considers the absence should be granted on compassionate grounds and/or in exceptional circumstances. When considering an application the Headteacher will take into account the child’s attendance record and the length of the request and the timing within the school year. Applications for authorised leave during national SATS week will not be approved. Applications will then be considered and the outcome passed on to the parent or guardian.



The school day starts at 8:55am. The school gates are opened at approximately 8:40am, when children may enter the school building where they are supervised. The school can not take responsibility for children arriving at school before 8.40am.

Parents are expected to ensure that children are present at registration. Children must attend on time and be present when the register is taken to be given a mark for a session, unless the lateness is unavoidable.  Children can become embarrassed and distressed if they arrive late for school. Arriving more than 15 minutes after the start of the session without good reason is counted as unauthorised absence.

 Application for Authorised Absence Form.docxDownload
 Attendance Policy Autumn 2023.pdfDownload
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