Section 30 of the 1980 Education Act plays a duty on every parent of a child of ‘school age’ to ensure that their child attends school regularly. Attendance must be recorded twice a day, morning and afternoon.
Regulation 7 of the Education (School and Placing Information) (Scotland) Amendment, Etc. Regulations 1993 requires each child’s absence from school to be recorded in the school register as authorised or unauthorised as defined by the Scottish Government.
At the start of each school session parents will be asked to provide contact details including at least one emergency contact number and one mobile number (for the text messaging service). Parents are required to inform the school if these contact details change during the course of the year.
Parents and carers are asked to inform the school if a pupil is unable to attend from the start of the school day on the morning of the first day of absence. Where a child has not registered and the school has not been informed of the absence the school’s text messaging service will be activated. Parents are asked to respond to the messaging service by contacting the school immediately. Failure to do so will result in school staff accessing all contact numbers provided for the child. In terms of child safety, police will be contacted if all attempts to locate the child have been exhausted.
Parents should inform the school by letter or telephone if their child is likely to be absent for some time, and to give the child a note on his or her return to school confirming the reason for absence.
Family Holidays during Term Time
Every effort should be made to avoid family holidays during term time as this both disrupts the child’s education and reduces learning time. Parents/guardians should inform the school by letter of the dates before going on holiday.
Absences will be classified as authorised only in exceptional circumstances. Such circumstances may include: A family holiday judged to be important to the wellbeing and cohesion of the family, following serious or terminal illness, bereavement or other traumatic events.
A family holiday classified under the ‘authorised absence’ category will not include such reasons as:
- The availability of cheap holidays
- The availability of desired accommodation
- Poor weather experience during school holidays
- Holidays which overlap the beginning or end of term
- Parental difficulty obtaining leave (except in cases where evidence is provided by the employer that it cannot accommodate leave during school holidays without serious consequences)
Family holidays with the above similar characteristics will be classified as unauthorised absence. Where the head teacher’s prior agreement has not been sought the absence will automatically be classed as unauthorised.
Extended Leave with Parental Consent
Where most family holidays will be recorded as unauthorised absence (see above) extended leave with parental consent will not be considered the same as a family holiday. Leave in such circumstances will be authorised under circumstances such as:
- Extended overseas educational trips not organised by the school
- Short-term parental placement abroad
- Family returning to its country of origin (to care for a relative, or for cultural reasons)
- Leave in relation to the children of travelling families
Exceptional Domestic Circumstances
Parents may request permission for such leave in writing and the school may authorise such requests under the following circumstances:
- The period immediately after an accident or illness
- A period of serious or critical illness of a close relative
- A domestic crisis which causes serious disruption to the family home, causing temporary relocation.
Parents/carers may request permission for a child to be absent from school to make an extended visit to relatives. For a request to be granted and the absence recorded as authorised it must be in writing and detail the destination and duration of the absence, and the provision to be made for the education of the child during the period of absence.
If there is no explanation from the parents/carer, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised.
The school attendance officer investigates unexplained absences and low attendance, and that the Education Authority has the power to write to, interview, or prosecute parents, or to refer pupils to the Reporter of the Children’s Hearings, if necessary.
In Lawmuir we put a great deal of emphasis on attendance at school. The school rewards excellence in attendance in various ways, monitors closely the attendance of all pupils and informs parents (by letter) when concerns emerge.