Attendance and Punctuality expectations

Don Valley Academy believes that excellent attendance and punctuality is the key for our Don Valley Learner’s Success. It is the foundation upon which the academy and home can work together. Therefore we must ensure that attendance and punctuality are the highest they possibly can be in order to prepare our students for their future adult life. We request from parents support in order to keep absenteeism and lateness to an absolute minimum.

At Don Valley Academy we strive for every student to attain 100% attendance. From September 2016, in line with the Government and Local Authority Guildlines, we expect all our students to achieve a minimum of 97% attendance.

Students should be in school at 8.15 am in order for them to be punctual to their first lesson which begins at 8.25am.

What is good attendance?

Attendance percentages are not like examination results: an attendance percentage needs to be in the high nineties before it can be considered good. Consider the following examples:-

  • An attendance record of 90% might seem good but is equal to 1 day missed per fortnight. If this continues from Years 7 to 11, a total of six month’s education will be lost.
  • An attendance record of 80% might seem acceptable but is equal to 1 day missed per week. If this continues from Years 7 to 11, a total of one year’s education will be lost.

Each year, a number of students in every year group achieve 100% attendance records, showing that this is an achievable target. In addition, a number of students have achieved this level of attendance in successive years.

Don Valley Academy expects all our students to achieve a minimum of 97% attendance.

Why is good attendance important?

Good attendance at school is vital for pupils to achieve their full educational potential. Pupils with good attendance records benefit in the following ways:-

  • Continuity of learning which makes progress and retention easier
  • Improved performance in coursework tasks
  • Enhanced performance in examinations
  • Continuity of relationships and friendships
  • Good references for further education or employment
  • Good habits are formed for later life

What can parents do to support their child to achieve good attendance levels?

Parents play a very important role in ensuring the good attendance records of their children. Below is a list of suggested strategies:-

  • Encourage full attendance.
  • Stress the importance of full attendance to your child.
  • Do not allow your child to have time off for minor complaints or illnesses: if they are well enough to be up and about they are generally well enough to attend the academy.
  • Monitor your child's attendance. They are given their attendance on a weekly basis written in their planner.
  • Try to book any medical or dental appointments out of academy hours or make them for the very end of the academy day.
  • Ensure your child is punctual to the academy, students should be in school at 8.15am.
  • Inform the academy on the first day of absence – we have an answer machine service from 3.30pm until 7.30am. Academy staff are available from 7.30am onwards to record absences.
  • Try to take any vacations in academy holidays, not during term time.
  • If your child is taking medication whilst at the academy, please ask your child to take it to reception with a note to give to our first aider who will administer it whilst at the academy.

Absences – Authorised and Unauthorised

Only the academy can authorise an absence. An explanation given by a parent is not, necessarily, sufficient for the academy to authorise an absence.

According to guidelines to schools from the Department for Education and Science, an absence may only be authorised if the absence is due to:-

  • Pupil illness
  • "Leave" given by the academy (this commonly includes medical appointments, interviews, and other similar special circumstances) However medical appointment should be made out of academy hours whenever possible.
  • The pupil being unable to attend due to unavoidable causes – authorised at the discretion of the academy.
  • Religious observance where applicable.

Absences which the academy is not able to authorise include:-

  • Looking after a relative, pet etc.
  • A shopping trip, even if this is for uniform.
  • Day trips.
  • Lateness after the register has closed.
  • Being unable to participate in an academy activity e.g. Games or a school trip.
  • Remaining at home to wait for deliveries, repairmen etc.

What can I do if my child starts missing school?

Children can show their worries and concerns in a number of different ways e.g. a reluctance to go to school, feigning illness, failure to attend school even though the child is sent, missing lessons whilst in school. If a problem seems to be emerging parents should:-

  • Talk to the child to try to ascertain if there are any problems or worries at the academy, on the journey to or from the academy or at home.
  • Contact the acadmey as soon as possible- Mrs Hepworth our Attendance Manager can be contacted throughout the academy day on 01302 651035. She will be happy to help you and your child with any concerns you may have around attendance.

Holidays in Term Time

Any absence, including absence for holidays, interrupts the continuity of student’s learning. Parents/carers are strongly urged not to take students out of school for holidays during term time.  Government Legislation now states that holidays during term time cannot be authorised except in exceptional circumstances. Please refer to the Department for Education for the latest guidance.     

The Local Authority has the right to serve a Fixed Penalty Notice on parents/carers who insist on taking their children out of school without authorisation. Fixed Penalties require each parent to pay a fine of £60 per child if paid within 21 days or £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days. Failure to pay within the specified timescale will result in a summons to appear before the Magistrates Court. This legislation also applies to any student taking holidays without prior notification to the Academy.

Persistent Absence

A student becomes a Persistent Absentee when they miss 10% of their schooling across the academic year for whatever reason. Absence at this level is doing considerable damage to any child’s educational prospects and we need parents’/carers’ full support and co-operation to tackle this. 

Statutory Requirements, the Law and the Local Authority

  • Registers are legal documents; regulatory requirements placed on schools regarding the keeping of registers are to be found in the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006.     
  • Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that parents/carers are responsible to ensure their child receives a suitable education.
  • Under section 444 of the Education Act 1996, a parent who fails to ensure their child attends the school at which they are registered, is guilty of an offence.
  • The Academy works together with the Local Authority to ensure that parents/carers fulfil their responsibility. There are a range of legal sanctions that may be imposed for dealing with unauthorised absence: Fixed Penalty Notices, Parenting Contracts and Orders, Education      Supervision Orders or referral to the Magistrates Court which can recommend fines (up to £2500) or up to 3 months in prison.     
  • All sanctions are used to improve attendance and punctuality and reduce absence.