Sturminster Marshall First School

Grow, Achieve, Inspire, Nurture. SMFS where learning is an adventure.

Attendance Policy

Adopted: 12/11/2019     

Staff Lead: Mr A Joyce     Governor Committee: Curriculum & School Improvement (CSI)

Attendance has a significant impact on a child’s learning, achievement and well-being. Our local schools work together to improve attendance for all our children across the pyramid.

Attendance is constantly monitored and the performance of a school is benchmarked nationally to assess its overall performance.


High levels of children’s achievement and high levels of attendance are inextricably linked. Promoting excellent attendance and punctuality is a shared responsibility between the children, parents and school.

  • Parents have a legal responsibility for ensuring that their child attends school regularly and punctually
  • Taking a register twice each day is a legal requirement
  • Our schools will be checking attendance on a regular basis
  • The whole school attendance target is 96 %

Regular attendance at school is vital to a child’s long term success. It is important to note the following:

  • An attendance rate of 90 % is the same as having a day off every two weeks and a whole year’s education across 10 years
  • An attendance rate of 80 % is the same as having a day off once a week. This is the same as missing one whole year’s education every 5 years
  • Research shows that children, who already have a pattern of non-attendance at primary school, continue to have low attendance at secondary level. This is hugely significant as research demonstrates a fall of one grade in every subject for every 10 % of non-attendance
  • Of pupils who miss between 10 % and 20 % of school, only 35 % manage to achieve five A* to C GCSEs including English and Maths
  • Of pupils who miss less than 5 % of school, 73 % achieve five A* to Cs including English and Maths
  • Absence not only impacts on a child’s rate of progress, it can also affect their confidence and friendships

Every school day counts towards your child’s future. We are keen to help children establish good habits for the future.

Guidance Information for Parents

  • Parents have a legal responsibility for ensuring that their child attends school regularly, punctually, properly equipped and ready to learn
  • If a child is prevented for any reason from attending, or is late, parents must notify the school as soon as possible on the first day of absence
  • A pupil's absence from school will be considered as unauthorised until a satisfactory explanation is received

Authorised absence means that the school has either given approval in advance for a pupil of compulsory school age to be away, or has accepted an explanation offered afterwards as justification for absence.

Unauthorised absence is where a school is not satisfied with the reasons given for the absence.

  • Parents will be promptly informed over concerns about attendance and given the opportunity to discuss this with a member of staff
  • Attendance will be discussed with parents if there is a level of concern or pattern of absence
  • If parents / families are facing challenging times, it is important that parents talk to our schools in confidence, as to how this might be affecting the child’s behaviour, attendance and ability to focus at school


Registration for all pupils is at 8.55 am. If pupils arrive at school after 8.55 am but before 9.25 am, the absence will be recorded as ‘late’. If your child arrives after this time, the absence will be recorded as an ‘unauthorised absence’.

Parents will be written to if their child is persistently late for school and if an improvement is not seen this matter will be considered as an attendance issue.

Schools Procedures to Manage Attendance

First Day Response

Parents must contact the school on the first day of absence to inform of a child’s absence and associated reason. Parents must contact the school on each day of absence thereafter unless the initial conversation with the school has agreed an expected return date. If parents do not contact the school then they can expect a phone call from the school. These calls will be made after the registers are closed each morning and afternoon to ensure that children are safe at all times.

Letters to Parents

Each school will review your child’s attendance on a half termly basis before taking the following action:

  • Attendance below 95% or frequent lates, we will write to let you know that we will be monitoring your child’s attendance
  • If no improvement you will be invited to a meeting with the Head Teacher to discuss your child’s attendance
  • If no improvement we will refer to Dorset County Council (DCC) School Attendance Service and will invite you to an Attendance Panel meeting

Leave of Absences requested during Term Time

From September 2013, the government amended regulations as follows:

Reporting Attendance

Your child’s attendance will be reported annually on their school report at the end of each academic year.

Parents can request their child’s current attendance figure, in writing, during the academic year.

Your co-operation and support of this shared approach in ensuring all children attend school regularly and punctually, enabling them to achieve their potential is much appreciated.

In line with amendments to the Education [Pupil Registration] [England] Regulations 2006, from September 2013, the school cannot grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances; holiday requests do not fall into this category and will no longer be approved as authorised absence.

Our Local Authority has issued us with the following guidance:

Dorset County Council Children’s Services Directorate, fully supports schools in expecting parents and carers to make sure that children and young people attend school on a regular basis. Any time away from school can have a significant impact on educational attainment, success in later life and longer term health and well-being. Dorset County Council will be supporting all schools in ensuring the law is upheld. In law, parents and carers are committing an offence if they fail to ensure the regular and punctual attendance of their children at school. Therefore any unauthorised absence, such as taking holidays in term time, can result in a Penalty Notice. Fines set are £60 if paid in full within 21 days of the notice and £120 if paid within 28 days. Failure to pay a Penalty Notice may result in a criminal conviction and a fine in the Magistrates Court. The process of issuing penalty notices for poor attendance at school is managed by the Local Education Authority. Further details are available on .

If, after carefully considering all of the above, you still wish to request permission for your child to be absent from school, please complete all the details below and submit the application with a covering letter and any supporting documents. Please note that your application will not be considered unless a letter is provided.