Attendance and Punctuality
Attendance at MPS
Excellent attendance is expected for all students at MPS. Full attendance maximises learning opportunities and parents/carers have a vital role in promoting good attitudes in attendance. Evidence shows that students who attend school regularly make better progress both academically and socially. We ask for support from parents/carers to:
- Ensure that their children are present every day (100%)
- Arrive on time
- Avoid allowing children to stay at home unnecessarily
- Avoid taking them out of school without authorisation
We monitor attendance closely and will follow up unexplained absence with parents/carers, by telephone or by letter.
The school targets students to attend 100% of the time. Every lesson counts and it is this commitment to learning that will have a positive impact on attainment and progress
Full information around attendance at MPS can be found through the policy here.
If your child is too ill to attend school, parents/carers should contact the school’s Attendance Officer as soon as possible.
- Telephone on 01737 919491 and speak to a member of the office team or leave a message. The telephone system allows callers to leave a message 24 hours a day.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We take our safeguarding responsibility seriously. Failure to notify us of an absence in good time, on any day, will inhibit our ability to safeguard your child effectively. We will initially try to make contact with you first. However, if we cannot make contact we will either complete a home visit to ensure the child is safe and accounted for, or when this is not possible notify the Police. In the event that we have completed a home visit and there is no response at your address, then we will notify the Police of a child missing in education.
Requesting Leave of Absence
The Government strongly urges parents/carers to avoid taking their children out of school for family unauthorised leave of absences as this will disrupt their education. Whilst we understand the difficulties parents/carers may have in organising unauthorised leave of absences during the school unauthorised leave of absences and the benefits to be had from cheaper term-time unauthorised leave of absences, this type of absence is detrimental to a child's education.
Any request should be made two weeks in advance and by completing the 'Application for leave of absence form'. The Head of School will consider all requests individually, although family unauthorised leave of absences will only be authorised in the most exceptional circumstances. Where a parental request has been refused and parents/carers continue to take their child out of school, this absence will be recorded as unauthorised.
What to do if your child has an appointment
We ask that, where possible, you make routine medical and other appointments out of school time. If this is not possible, we require notification in advance. Please telephone, email or provide a note from home or appointment letter/card to confirm the appointment. In most cases, your child should attend school before the appointment and return to the school afterwards wherever possible. Students should bring a note from home (if not previously reported by email) to the main office when it is time for them to sign out and sign back in on their return.
Punctuality guidance for Parents/Carers
We place a strong emphasis on good punctuality; we support this by:-
- Awarding House points to Learning Mentor groups where all students have arrived punctually over a period of time
- Informing parents of lateness through ClassCharts if their child arrives late for school
- Addressing issues of poor time keeping with individual students and their parents
- Senior staff on duty in the local community first thing in the morning to encourage students not to loiter in these areas and make themselves late
- Giving sanctions to students who arrive late to school or lessons
Parents'/Carers' support for Punctuality
We would ask parents to support us in maintaining good punctuality by:-
- Ensuring their child has organised their bag and equipment the night before so that this does not delay departure in the morning
- Ensuring that their child gets up in plenty of time to be ready and prepared for school
- Discussing any issues of lateness to ensure this does not become a habit
- Informing the school if their child is going to be late
Lateness to School
According to DfE guidelines, registers must be closed after a certain time in the morning. Therefore, if a student arrives after 9.15 a.m., they cannot receive a late mark but have to be marked as absent for the whole morning session. If the lateness is due to a legitimate reason e.g. a medical appointment, the absence can be authorised. Otherwise, the session is marked as an unauthorised absence. If the child receives 10 or more unauthorised absence sessions then the parent/carer could be liable for a fixed penalty notice.
Parent and Carer Attendance FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why has my child been marked as absent for the whole morning when they arrived at 9.30 a.m.?
As stated above, DfE guidelines state that the register must be closed after a reasonable time in the morning. If arriving after 9.15 a.m., a child will be marked as an unauthorised absence for the morning session.
Could I receive a fine if my child is persistently late?
If your child receives 10 or more unauthorised absences, you could be issued with a fixed penalty notice. This is £60 per parent (regardless of whether they reside in the same household) if paid within 28 days, rising to £120 thereafter.
My child was only a couple of minutes late. It seems harsh that he/she should get a late mark.
The school has to abide by the rules and expectations laid down for all schools. Lateness for school (or work) is a failure to arrive on time and will be marked as such. We would encourage students to set off in good time so that any small delay does not cause them to be late.
Our whole family overslept and it is not my child’s fault that he/she is late. Will they receive a late mark?
This can not be taken as an acceptable reason for lateness so a late mark or unauthorised absence would be recorded, depending on the time of arrival.
My child has to catch the bus to school which is sometimes late. Will they receive a late mark?
Any lateness is recorded as thus on the register. We would advise that the child leaves earlier so that even if the bus is late, they will still arrive on time. If the bus is sometimes late, then it is not a reliable way to ensure arrival in good time.
Would you make any allowances for lateness if, for example, there were major traffic problems in the area perhaps because of an accident, so my car/the bus was unavoidably stuck in traffic?
The school cannot make allowances for the individual problem (however genuine it may be). However, it does make allowances when there are known reported major problems that affect a large number of people; very heavy snowfall would be one such example.
What if I phone up/email to say my child is going to be late? Would he/she still get a late mark?
Yes, they would still be marked late, but it is very helpful to know that you are aware and for us to know the expected time of arrival and reason for lateness.
If I know my child is going to be late, do I need to ring/send in a note?
It is very helpful if you do this. If your child is very late, they will be marked as unauthorised absence and your note may give an alternative acceptable reason to allow us to authorise the absence.
What can I do if my child is starting to present attendance difficulties?
These difficulties can show themselves 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/carers should:
- Talk to the child to try to ascertain if there are any problems or worries at school on the journey to or from school or at home.
- Contact your child’s Head of Year as soon as possible.
- Seek advice from the School’s Attendance Officer; Mrs S Cole. She is in school every day.
- Consider seeking advice from appropriate websites.
Why doesn’t Merstham Park School authorise holidays?
We are very aware of the essential role good attendance plays in achieving good academic progress and good social skills. We, therefore, took the decision many years ago that we could not authorise holidays in term time as doing so would be in direct contradiction to what we know is best for our students.
Why do you issue fixed penalty notices if parents/carers remove their children for a holiday?
We can not authorise an avoidable absence which causes harm to the continuity of a child’s education. We are aware that holidays in term time are cheaper than those in school holidays and that this can be a motivating factor. The penalty notice therefore attempts to remove this incentive as well as reinforcing the importance of school attendance. Please note: the fine monies are not given to the school.
Would I have received a fixed penalty notice if I had lied about the absence?
We expect honesty in our dealings with parents/carers and we are sure parents/carers wish to model this to their children. However, it is also our experience that children will tell their friends of their holiday who inadvertently tell their teachers. The length of absence can also trigger attendance officer investigation, including home visits, leading to the truth of the matter.
What should I do if my child is reluctant to attend school?
There may be many reasons why a child is reluctant to attend school, both issues related to school but also issues which are not related to school in any way. Contact the Head of Year (HoY) as soon as possible if your child is reluctant to attend school. They will suggest a meeting with you and your son/daughter to discuss strategies which can be put into place to support his/her attendance at school.
If my child refuses to attend school, can I be held responsible?
Yes. As the child’s parent, you are expected to ensure that they receive an education. If your child does not attend school you could face court action resulting in a possible fine and or even imprisonment. Please contact the Head of Year if you are concerned about your child’s attendance.
Can I be prosecuted if I pay the Penalty Notice but my child is still missing school?
Not for the period included in the Penalty Notice - payment discharges your liability in this respect. However, it may be the case that a prosecution might be considered for further periods of poor attendance not covered by the Penalty Notice, depending upon the circumstances. If this is an issue, it is vital that you work closely with your child's school and support agencies such as Surrey’s Inclusion Service.
Fixed Penalty Notice
FIXED PENALTY NOTICE
What is the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003?
Section 23 of the Act gives power to the Local Education Authority and other designated bodies to issue Penalty Notices where a parent/carer is considered capable of, but unwilling to, secure an improvement in their child's school attendance.
The powers came into force on 27 February 2004.
Why has it been introduced?
Reducing absence from school is a key priority nationally and locally because missing school damages a pupil's attainment levels and disrupts school routines, affecting the learning of others. It can also leave a pupil vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and youth crime.
Above all, missing school seriously affects student's longer term life opportunities.
What is a Penalty Notice?
The Inclusion Service, acting on behalf of Surrey County Council may issue a Penalty Notice as an alternative to the prosecution of a parent/carer for their child’s unauthorised absence from school and requires the recipient to pay a fixed amount.
The amount payable on issue of a Penalty Notice is £60 if paid within 21 days of receipt of the notice, rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days.
If the Penalty Notice is not paid within 28 days, the Local Authority must consider a prosecution for failing to ensure regular school attendance under Section 444 Education Act 1996.
How are they issued?
By post to your home address.
When are they used?
Surrey County Council considers that regular attendance at school is of such importance that Penalty Notices may be used in a range of situations where unauthorised absence occurs :
- Pupils identified by police and education welfare officers engaged on Truancy Patrols and who have incurred unauthorised absences.
- The Education (Pupil Registration)(England)(Amendment) Regulations 2013, state that Head teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. The Head teacher is required to determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if leave is granted.
- Where a child is taken out of school for 10 sessions or more and the ‘leave of absence’ is without the authority of the head teacher, each parent is liable to receive a penalty notice for each child who is absent. In these circumstances, a warning will not be given where it can be shown that parents had previously been warned that such absences would not be authorised and that they will be liable to receive a Penalty Notice if the leave of absence is taken.
- The issue of a Penalty Notice will also be considered where a pupil has incurred 7 or more unauthorised sessions during the preceding 6 school weeks. The parents’ failure to engage with supportive measures proposed by the school or Inclusion Service will be a factor when considering the issue of a Penalty Notice. Unauthorised absence will include late arrival after the close of registration without good reason.
With the exception of unauthorised leave of absence taken in term time, parents will be sent a formal warning of their liability to receive such a notice before it is issued.
Surrey County Council never takes such action lightly and would far rather work with parents/carers to improve attendance without having to resort to any enforcement actions. Education is of such importance, however, that Surrey will use the powers if this is the only way of securing a child's regular attendance at school.
Is a warning given?
The normal response to a first offence will be a written warning rather than a Penalty Notice. However, the Authority has the discretion to issue a Penalty Notice for a first offence, without warning, in exceptional circumstances. This could be where the parent/carer has chosen to take their child on holiday without prior authorisation by the school.
Is there an appeal process?
There is no statutory right of appeal once a Penalty Notice has been issued.
How do I pay?
Details of payment arrangements will be included on the Penalty Notice. You need to be aware that payment in part or by instalment is not an option with Penalty Notices.
What happens if I do not pay?
You have up to 28 days from receipt to pay the Penalty Notice in full, after which the Authority is required under the Act to commence proceedings in the Magistrates Court, for the original offence of failure to ensure your child's regular attendance at school.
If proven, parents/carers can be fined up to £2,500 each depending upon circumstances.
The Court is also able to impose other sanctions such as Parenting Orders or Community / Custodial Sentences etc.