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St Mary's Catholic Primary Schools Trust



By law (Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 and Section 36 of the Children Act 1989), all children of compulsory school age (between 5 and 16) must get a suitable full-time education. The legal responsibility for compliance with these Acts rests with the parents / carers and Courts have the powers to fine, imprison or impose Parenting Orders when a finding of guilt is made. Children are expected to attend school for the full academic year, unless there is a good reason for absence.

At St Mary’s we believe in working in partnership with families to develop a responsible attitude to school attendance. We expect regular attendance, even where we recognise problems of individual families and children.

A child should attend school regularly and on time because:

  • A good education will help give him/her the best possible start in life
  • Clear research evidence shows the link between poor attendance and low achievement 
  • It develops an understanding of the importance of having a good attendance record. Children pick up the message that their presence is important which will hold them in good stead when they enter the world of employment. Employers want to be sure that people they recruit are reliable 

Key points

  • Where a pupil is absent without prior permission an explanation is required. There must be a written note in addition to any phone call or personal message received by the school. Where no reason is forthcoming the absence will be treated as unauthorised.
  • Schools are not obliged to accept parental notes where there is reasonable doubt as to the validity of the explanation. Reasons such as shopping etc. will not be accepted as legitimate and will therefore be unauthorised. 
  • Medical appointments should be made outside the school day, but when this is unavoidable an appointment card must be shown at the office.
  • There is no legal entitlement to term time holidays. Holidays should not be taken during school time; these adversely affect the child’s education and are strongly discouraged. In exceptional circumstances the Chair of Governors may authorise short absences.
  • Any request for authorised absence must be on the school form obtainable from the office. These will be scrutinised by the Chair of Governors and will be approved only where the child’s attendance record is excellent and the circumstances unavoidable.
  • The school is alert to any issues around bullying, including cyber bullying, and will seek to address any such problems immediately so no child misses out on their educational entitlement.
  • Persistent lateness (after the register is closed) is regarded as non-attendance and is punishable in law.
  • Fixed Penalty Notices may be levied by the Educational Welfare Service for unauthorised absence and persistent lateness (more than 10 times in a half term). (Croydon Council Good Practice and Procedures in Attendance (Revised) 2008)
  • The school has the right to withdraw a child from the school role where a child has long term absence and the school is unaware of where the pupil is or why the pupil is not at school. This is done in conjunction with the Educational Welfare Service.
  • In promoting regular attendance this school works closely with our Educational Welfare Officer.
  • The school has a legal duty to publish its absence figures nationally and locally, and to promote good attendance and punctuality.
  • Parents can request an attendance certificate for their child in order to confirm attendance for residence enquiries. An administration fee of £10 is charged for this service.
  • You will find full details on attendance under ‘Policies’