Prince Albert Primary School is working in partnership with parents and Birmingham City Council to encourage children back into school following several very difficult months for parents, children and schools. We would like to thank parents for the work you have done in ensuring your children have received education during this period.
During the recent lockdown, schools were closed to all but vulnerable children and the children of critical workers.
Now the circumstances have changed, it is vital for all children to return to school to minimise as far as possible the longer-term impact of the pandemic on their education, wellbeing and wider development. We know that children have missed being with their friends and the wider social aspects of school. Following the first lockdown the vast majority of children returned to full time school.
Missing out on more time in the classroom risks pupils falling further behind. Those with higher overall absence tend to achieve less well in both primary and secondary school. Therefore, the government has advised that school attendance is again compulsory from the 8th March 2021.
This means that (unless parents are formally notified of new lockdown arrangements where schools are closed or a child is required to self-isolate), the usual rules on school attendance apply, including:
parents’ duty to send their child/children to school regularly where they are of compulsory school age;
schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence
the option for local authorities to again consider the use of legal sanctions, including penalty notices and prosecution in court.
If you are worried about your child/children attending school the first port of call is to discuss your concerns with the school directly. The school has specialist staff who may be able to help, and all schools work closely with health and council teams who may also be able to help if needed.
Please note that, given the disruption to children’s education caused by the pandemic, requests for leave during term time are unlikely to be authorised by the Head Teacher.
Family emergencies also need careful consideration. It is not always appropriate or in the best interests of the child to miss school for emergencies which are being dealt with by adult family members.
No school or local authority wants to take legal action. Every attempt to resolve parents’ concerns and improve a child’s attendance will be made before any formal legal action, which may include a penalty notice or court action, is considered.
After so much disruption to children’s education over the past year, the most important thing is that the school and parents work together to get children back into school. The school is ready to listen so please contact them if you have any worries and they will try to help you.
Prince Albert Primary School is working in partnership with parents and the Local Authority to improve school attendance. We would like to congratulate the many parents who make sure their children attend school regularly.
Absence disrupts the education of the individual pupil and the whole class. Are you aware that children who do not attend regularly:
do not achieve well in exams
find it difficult to maintain friendships
are more likely to become involved in crime
miss out on opportunities in further education and the world of work?
How does your child compare?
Attendance during one school year
equals this number of days absent
which is approximately this many weeks absent
which means this number of lessons missed
Absence can only be authorised by the Head Teacher, within the boundaries set by the Education (Pupil Registrations) (England) Regulations 2006. Head Teachers may not authorise leave during term time except where the circumstances are exceptional.
Please remember that parental illness, going shopping, visiting family, truancy, not wanting to go to school, alleged bullying (speak to school immediately to resolve the issue) are not acceptable reasons to be absent. All of these will be recorded as unauthorised absence, including if your child arrives at school after the close of registration.
Family emergencies need careful consideration. It is not always appropriate or in the best interests of the child to miss school for emergencies which are being dealt with by adult family members. Being at school with support from staff and peers can provide children with stability. The routine of school offers a safe and familiar background during times of uncertainty.
It is a parent’s legal responsibility to ensure their children receive appropriate education. Failing to send your child to school regularly without good reason is a criminal offence.
Legal action that may be taken includes:
Issuing penalty notices: Each parent receives a penalty notice for each child who has unauthorised absence. The penalty is £60 or £120 depending on how soon payment is made. So, if there are two parents and two children the total penalties could be up to £480. Failure to pay may result in prosecution.
Taking parents to court for unauthorised absence: Education Act 1996 Section 444(1) - court can fine each parent up to £1000 per child, order payment of prosecution costs and/or impose a Parenting Order.
Taking parents to court for persistent unauthorised absence: Education Act 1996 Section 444(1A) - court can fine each parent up to £2,500 per child, order payment of the prosecution costs, impose a Parenting Order and/or sentence you to a period of imprisonment of up to 3 months.
Being taken to court could result in you having a criminal record.
Frequent absence can add up to a considerable amount of lost learning and can seriously disadvantage your child in adult life.
If your child’s level of absence is of serious concern, the school will offer advice and support to improve attendance. After this, any unauthorised absence may result in the School and the Local Authority taking legal action.
Again, we would like to thank those parents who make sure their child is attending school regularly and are therefore benefiting fully from their educational opportunity.
Lead Attendance Officer
Education Legal Intervention Team Alternative Provision, Attendance, and Independent Education Service Birmingham City Council