Section 30 of the 1980 Education Act lays 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 authorized or unauthorised, as defined by the Scottish Government.
Parents should inform the school if their child is likely to be absent for some time, and provide a note on his/her return to school, with a reason for absence.
At the start of each school session, parents will be asked to provide contact details including at least one emergency contact number, including, where possible, a number that will accept a text message. 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 first day of absence. Failure to do so will result in school staff accessing all contact numbers provided for the child and may result in the school sending a text message. In terms of child safety, police will be contacted if all attempts to locate the child have been exhausted.
Parents are also asked to 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/her return to school confirming the reason for absence.
Parents of children attending the Nursery Class are also asked to inform the nursery on the first day of absence and to maintain contact with the nursery should the absence continue beyond two days. If the Nursery staff do not receive information, parents will be contacted to ascertain how long the absence is to be expected and to agree a return date for the child,
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 CIRUMSTANCES
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.
Any unexplained absences, or pattern of absence, will be investigated by the school’s Attendance Officer. If necessary, the parent will be warned in writing, and, if no improvement is made, the case may be referred to the Attendance Committee, who may, in turn, refer the matter to the Reported of Children’s Hearings. It must be said, however, that this rarely happens, as a request by the head teacher that the parent or guardian should visit the school to discuss the situation is all that is required.
No child is allowed to leave the school during school hours without the permission of the head teacher. Therefore, if it is essential for your child to leave class e.g. for doctor, hospital or dental appointment, an explanatory letter or the appropriate card should be sent in and the child collected from school.