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.
It is essential that parents telephone the school to inform us of any absence. If no phone call is received and we cannot contact the emergency contacts, then we may have to take further action and inform the Police.
All absences should be covered by a note from parents. In a case where a child has been absent and no covering letter has been received by the school, the school attendance officer will be asked to investigate.
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. Parents are required to inform the school if these contact details change during the course of the school 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. In terms of child safety, Police will be contacted if all attempts to locate the child have been exhausted.
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/Carers 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 well-being 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.
Where most family holidays will be recorded as unauthorised absence, 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.
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.
The school attendance officer investigates unexplained absence and that the authority has the power to write to, interview, or prosecute parents, or to refer them to the reporter of the children’s hearings, if necessary. Parent Council may have an advisory role in these proceedings.