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Absence and Attendance

“Education is arguably the single most important factor in reducing trans-generational inequalities … poor school attendance can negatively impact a child’s future …”


Why is school attendance so important?

School lays the vital foundations for a child’s future life. There is strong research that shows that irregular attendance can adversely affect academic and social development. As a child’s level of overall absence increases, the likelihood of achieving key attainment outcomes decreases. Whilst the school’s level of attendance is returning to good levels compared to other schools nationally, it is yet to return to the very high levels pre-Covid. The school has an ethos of the highest expectations of self and others and we strive for the best we can be in everything we do. Family holidays and ‘get togethers’ are of course extremely important, but these need to be planned during the 13 weeks each year that the children are on holiday…that’s 25% of the year!

Every message we give our children must reinforce the importance of education. When children are absent from school, they miss out on consistent teaching that is needed to develop basic skills. This can have a snowball effect that impacts future learning. Not only do children miss the academic side of their learning, but the children are also disadvantaged socially as the other children move on with their friendships and relationships while the other children are absent. Absence from school not only disadvantages the absent child but also the rest of the children in the class as the teacher has to spend time with the child who has been absent, helping them to catch up on their return. Other than for exceptional reasons such as illness, this is simply not fair.

Authorisation of absence during term time

A pupil’s absence during term time can seriously disrupt their continuity of learning. Not only do they miss the teaching provided on the days they are away, they are also less prepared for the lessons on their return. There is consequently a risk of underachievement. Parents should not take any unauthorised leave of absence during term time.

Penalty Notices and Fines

Parents do not have the right to take their child out of school for any period of time.  All parents seeking leave of absence must complete an ‘Application for leave of absence/exceptional circumstances' form. It is for the Head Teacher to decide whether or not there are exceptional circumstances. All requests for leave of absence are treated sympathetically, but the policy of Surrey County Council, to which this school has agreed, is that other than in exceptional circumstances, absences during term time will not be authorised. This is explained to parents before they accept a place for their child at St. Dunstan’s and is stated in the welcome booklet issued to parents. Parents sign the home school agreement agreeing to adhere to the school’s policy on absence in term time.

The Governors’ Attendance Policy explains that if parents persist in taking their child out of school without the approval of the school, they will be liable to receive a Penalty Notice for failing to ensure their child’s regular school attendance. 

Each parent will be liable to receive a Penalty Notice for each child who is absent. 

The Penalty Notice is for £60 if paid within 21 calendar days and £120 if paid after this time but within 28 days.  Failure to pay the Penalty Notice will result in you being served with a summons to appear at the Magistrates Court.

If the absence exceeds 20 days, your child’s name will be removed from the school roll and you will have to reapply for places upon your return. We have waiting lists for every year group.