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Maintaining Attendance and Punctuality at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School

Dear Parents,

We would appreciate your support in maintaining our attendance and punctuality.

At St Joseph’s we take our job of educating pupils seriously, but we cannot do this if they are not in school with us. We cannot stress how important it is for your child to attend school every day. Missing lessons has a significant impact on the attainment and progress of children.  In addition to this, the law is clear (section 444 of the 1996 Education Act) that parents of a child of compulsory school age are under a legal duty to ensure regular attendance and prompt punctuality of that child at school.

It is statutory for children who are age 5 or older to attend school.  This means that all the children in our Key Stage 1 and 2 classes, and the children in our Reception classes who have already had their fifth birthday, must come to school every day.  The Government’s minimum standard for a primary school’s attendance is 96% and our school attendance target is 97%.  We also work hard to encourage all the 4-year-old children who attend our Reception class to come to school every day.

Why is attendance and punctuality important?

Good attendance and punctuality is vital if children are to do their best and make good progress. Research shows that children are much more likely to meet age-related expectations if they have high levels of attendance at school, and we aim to promote this from the very start of their school career.  This encourages children to form positive attitudes from a young age, which will influence their approach to work and life in later years. If children understand how important good attendance and punctuality is, they will achieve more in school and will develop good habits for the future.

Did you know that 90% attendance means that your child is absent from lessons for the equivalent of one half day per week and that over 5 years this adds up to being absent for one half of a school year!

Recording Absence

Absence is recorded as authorised or unauthorised.  Only the Head Teacher can authorise absence and they are not obliged to accept your explanation.  Persistent unauthorised absence will result in a referral to our attendance panel and may result in a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.


School starts at 8:45am. Children are expected to be here ready for the doors to open at 8:45am.

If your child arrives after 8:50am, they will be marked in the register as 'L' - late before register closes.  If the gate is closed they will need to come into school via the main entrance. 

Any child arriving after the close of registration at 9.00am will be recorded in the register as ‘U’ which is equivalent to an absence for that session.  Unauthorised and persistent lateness may result in a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.

Did you know that 5 minutes late every day is the equivalent of being missing 3.4 school days a year!

Absence due to illness

Absence from school will be authorised if it is due to illness or medical needs, however we do still encourage children to attend school unless they are very unwell. 

If a child is ill and cannot attend school, parents must telephone the school before 9:00 am and give the precise reason for the absence. If an absence is not reported by a parent then we are duty bound to investigate, and if no reason is given then it becomes an unauthorised absence.

Please note that for children who have frequent occasional days off due to illness, parents may be requested to provide medical evidence to explain these absences.  If parents are unable to justify regular absences with medical evidence, further absences will also be recorded as unauthorised and may result in a referral to the Attendance Panel.

Medical Appointments

Wherever possible, we ask parents to try to make appointments for doctors and dentists before or after school. Where this is impossible, they should inform the School Office of such an appointment and it will be noted in the register. We will need to see proof of dental or hospital appointments.

Children cannot be allowed to leave school during the school day unless there is an emergency, in which case the child should be collected personally by the parent or named carer, and the Class teacher and School Office informed.

Exceptional Leave

If a child needs to be absent for any reason other than illness, such as, bereavement, family illness or crisis, parents must first seek permission from the Head Teacher.

Parents do not have the legal right to take children out of school for holidays. If exceptional circumstances arise where parents decide that time away from school cannot be avoided, then permission must be sought in writing and before booking. 

Exceptional circumstances does not include spending time with family members who live abroad or taking advantage of cheaper flights.

If exceptional leave has been granted once before, it is unlikely to be granted again.

Absences will NOT be authorised if they are due to:

  • another member of the family being ill
  • the family oversleeping or having a late night
  • Sporting events or competitions
  • problems with uniform
  • forgetting school dates
  • birthdays
  • bad weather
  • vague reasons

Holiday in School Time

Amendments to the 2006 Education Regulations means that absence for holiday’s term time cannot be granted except in the most exceptional circumstance at the discretion of the Head Teacher. Any absence for holidays will therefore be unauthorised.

Recognising and Rewarding Good Attendance

We speak regularly to the children about the importance of attendance and have set up many recognition and reward schemes for those pupils who attend well. 

  • We have a weekly Attendance Award for the class with the highest attendance. 
  • Children are rewarded with a voucher for 100% school year attendance.

On behalf of both the staff and the governors who are working very hard to improve attendance and punctuality, we would like to thank you for your continuing support and co-operation.