Attendance & Punctuality

At St Mary’s we regard regular attendance as critical to pupil progress and we aim to achieve and maintain high standards in attendance and punctuality. We maintain an electronic attendance record and initiate quick and early intervention if a problem is identified. We feel it is crucial that even the youngest of children develop the habit of regular and punctual attendance and learn to be responsible and reliable.

In addition, good attendance and punctuality are seen as achievements in their own right and are recognised by the school.

Absence Notification

If a child is absent from school, a parent or carer should ring the school office on the first day of absence 01270 260620, giving a reason for the absence. Please continue to leave messages on the answer phone on every subsequent day of the absence. If the school does not receive a message a member of staff will contact parents by phone. This should then be followed up with written confirmation sent with the child on the day that they return. This note will then be kept on record. If no message or note is received the absence may be classed as unauthorised.

When a child’s school attendance is a cause for concern, medical evidence may be required in order to enable the school to authorise absence due to illness.


Parents should ensure wherever possible that all medical or dental appointments are made outside of school time. For all medical or dental appointments during the school day an appointment card or letter from the specialist must be received by the school to be retained on file.

Leave in term time

Parents and carers are advised to use the school term dates to ensure family holidays are planned in line with school holidays and not during term time. Term Dates are available here

It is not appropriate for the school to authorise absences for shopping, looking after other children, day trips etc. Leave may, however, be granted in an emergency or exceptional circumstances (e.g. bereavement) or for medical appointments which cannot be arranged out of school time.

There is no entitlement for parents to remove their pupil from school for the purposes of a holiday in term time.

In exceptional circumstances parents may request to remove their pupil for a family holiday. If parents do decide to take a holiday (against advice and legislation) then they should complete a leave from learning form available from the school office or website, at least three weeks prior to the trip, stating the first day of absence the date of return to school, and the reason for taking the holiday. Please remember that since September 2013 all holidays in term time are unauthorised except in extreme or exceptional circumstances.

The same leave from learning form can also be used to seek permission for any requests for non-attendance.

The governors have agreed that lower costs/cheaper fares, taking holidays with different sets of parents, visiting family abroad, medical appointments abroad, visits to foreign embassies, receiving the sacraments abroad, significant birthdays or anniversaries etc will not be accepted as an “exceptional” circumstances.

Parents should not assume that returning the form guarantees that the leave of absence request will be approved.

The Head teacher has the authority (through current legislation) to decide whether or not to authorise the requested absence.

The Head teacher will inform parents of the reason/s for a request being refused.

Parents who do decide to remove their child from school during term time must consider the following:

  • If a pupil is removed for a family holiday without approval, the absence will be marked as “unauthorised” in the class register. In addition, the Head teacher may report the absence to the Attendance and Children out of School Team who have the authority to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice.
  • A pupil who is removed for a prolonged period in term time (that is – longer than a normal absence for sickness) will miss a large amount of school work while he or she is away and will be unprepared for the work on returning to school.
  • Teachers will not be able to spend time helping a pupil to catch up with the work missed during the holiday.
  • The school will not provide extra work to do at home to make up for that missed. This is not appropriate as the pupil will have missed the initial teaching input.
Penalties for unauthorised absence
Timeline One child Two children
Paid within 21 days £60 per parent £60 per child = £120 per parent
After 21 days and before 28 days £120 per parent £120 per child = £240 per parent
After 28 days You will be summons to appear before the Magistrates’ Court on the grounds you have failed to secure your child’s regular attendance You will be summons to appear before the Magistrates’ Court on the grounds you have failed to secure your child’s regular attendance

Two young students colouring in a piece of paper with a t-shirt printed on it.

A young student pictured writing in their textbook.