Revised Guidance for Parents on ‘In Term Absence Requests’
Common sense application and recognising good attendance.
One of the most visited pages on the school website is that linked to ‘in term absence’ (often referred incorrectly as ‘holiday requests’). You will recall that, in its most recent report, Ofsted criticised the high levels of persistent absenteeism at our school. This was seen as a result of parents not meeting their child’s needs by failing to ensure regular attendance, despite school leaders taking all steps possible to address this.
Each year I receive many requests to take children out of school during term time and as a result follow the Department for Education guidance on whether to authorise or not. Absences are only authorised ‘for exceptional reasons’, which can be difficult to define. It is not easy sometimes to maintain consistency, as each case can be very different.
A common sense review of criteria that supports good attendees
Whilst I must uphold the guidance given by the government, there is an element of discretion on a case-to-case basis. Therefore, in order to support parents who ensure good attendance and commitment to education, governors and I have agreed a model that can be applied to cases that are ‘borderline’; i.e. if what are routinely defined as exceptional circumstances is disputed but an absence is not likely to have a significant negative impact on the child.
It is hoped that transparency in how this new system is to be applied will reward good attendance and parenting.
Borderline exceptional circumstances
As of this term, requests that are deemed borderline may be approved as long as:
For clarity: absence requests that are borderline exceptional will not be approved if attendance is poor (below 95%).
All authorisations remain at the discretion of the headteacher and parents are reminded that taking absence when it has not been approved is a punishable offence in law, and can result in a ‘fixed term penalty notice’ (fine) and a custodial (prison) sentence.
It is hoped that this initiative will support parents who feel that the system unjustifiably penalise their good parenting whilst encouraging those with low attendance to address this rapidly.
Mr Peter Seargent B.Ed (hons), NPQH. Headteacher