As you will be aware, at Southwood and Downs Barn schools, we are highly committed to making sure children’s attendance is as high as possible. Whilst there are some occasions where children need to be taken out of school for a genuinely exceptional circumstance (which will be recognised by the school) in general, children must not be taken out of school during term time. This includes holidays.
If a child is has an unauthorised absence for 5 days in a row (which is recorded as 10 school sessions – morning and afternoon), a fixed penalty fine may be issued. Repeated unauthorised absences over a period of time may also lead to a fixed penalty fine. If a child misses 10 individual school sessions within a three month period, a fine may be issued.
If your child will not be at school because they are ill, or for another valid reason, please telephone the school before 9am. If we haven't received a phone call, we will telephone you to check where your child is (additional contact numbers may be used if we cannot contact you on the first priority number).
The following guidance regarding attendance is from Milton Keynes Council:
The importance of regular school attendance
Regular attendance at school is vital to help children achieve and get the best possible start in life. Children who frequently miss school often fall behind. In fact, there is a strong link between regular school attendance and achieving good grades at GCSE - having an attendance rate of 80% is equivalent to missing a day a week
Your responsibilities as a parent
Children must receive a full time education between the school term after their fifth birthday and the last Friday in June in the school year they turn 16 (Y11). If your child fails to attend school regularly you may be guilty of a criminal offence and this could result in a prosecution. All Milton Keynes schools have their own attendance policies and are responsible for managing pupil attendance.
Authorised and unauthorised absence
If your child cannot attend school, you should contact the school as early as possible to explain why your child needs to be absent and to obtain permission to ensure the absence is authorised.
Only the school can authorise your child’s absence. An authorised absence is where the school has given approval in advance or has accepted an explanation for the absence afterwards. In most cases this will be due to your child being ill. If your child has a lot of absence due to illness the school may ask for GP or other medical evidence to enable them to make a decision about authorising the absence.
If the school does not accept the reason for absence or no reason is given the absence will be marked as “unauthorised” and you will place yourself at risk of prosecution or of receiving another financial sanction.
Try to arrange appointments during school holidays, at weekends or after school hours. Naturally, there will be times when this is not possible but you must try to give as much advance warning as possible and take the appointment letter or card into school to ensure they are aware of the absence and the reasons for it.
Ask your school in advance for time off for religious reasons. Only the day of the actual religious festival/celebration will be “authorised”.
Persistent Lateness after the Register has close
If your child is persistently late after the register the school can ask the Local Authority to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice. An explanation of Fixed Penalty Notices is given below.
Holidays/Leave during term time
Schools are no longer allowed to authorise requests for children to be taken out of school in term time unless there are “exceptional circumstances”. If you take a holiday which is not authorised by the school then they may refer the matter to the Local Authority who will consider the issue of a Fixed Penalty Notice.Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) are issued to each parent and are for each child. A FPN is £60 if paid within 21 days, and £120 if paid between 22 and 28 days. If the fine is not paid, parents will be prosecuted in the magistrates’ court.
If a FPN is issued, it will be one fine to cover the whole period of the absence. So the fine would be the same amount for an absence of five days or 10 days. Please refer to our FAQ’s for further information. (DOC, 68KB).
You can make a payment for a Fixed Penalty Notice by selecting Fixed Penalty Notices – School Attendance Payment on our 'Pay for it' page found here. You will need the serial number of the FPN to make an on-line payment - this will start with the letters SA.
Please understand that fixed penalty fines will only be issued when parents/carers have not adhered to the school’s Attendance Policy.