Over the past few years, attendance at Kingdown has been excellent, and so we are writing to you to formally say ‘thank you’ for your part in enabling us, together, to achieve this. We also wanted to remind you of the importance of strong attendance, and of our attendance procedures.

There is a direct relationship between excellent attendance and successful exam outcomes. Students with the poorest attendance, more often than not, progress less well than other students. We have collated a significant quantity of evidence in school which shows a direct link between strong attendance and strong outcomes at both GCSE and A Level. Put bluntly, students whose attendance drops achieve significantly lower outcomes. We have placed a figure of 96% as a minimum attendance expectation for all students to ensure that, together, we are able to ensure your child is able to reach their full potential. As a school we would therefore very much appreciate your continued support in making sure that your child misses as little learning time as possible.

Communication with school

Kingdown School has an absence line for parents/carers to use. Please can parents/carers phone in by 8.30am on every day of absence and leave a message. The phone number is 01985 224224; an automated set of instructions will tell you how to leave a message.

Medical appointments

Students need to remember to sign-in at reception if they are late for school or if they are leaving school during the day, either for a medical appointment or other reasons.  We would really appreciate medical and dental appointments not being made during the school day wherever possible. However, we understand that this is not always something that you can control. Afternoon appointments are best because students are likely to miss less of the school day.   As a school we only authorise a maximum of half a day for a single medical appointment; there are exceptions to this if a pupil is having a course of lengthy or specialist medical treatment.

Statutory Attendance Marks

The statutory marks for a student’s attendance are lesson 1 and lesson 5 – these make up the 100% attendance mark for the day.  If a student fails to attend before the registers close (8.55am) they will lose their AM mark and therefore only be able to achieve 50% attendance for the day.  Students are also registered internally every lesson – during periods 1, 2, tutor time, 3, 4 and 5 – for safeguarding reasons.

Punctuality

Period 1 starts at 8.30am, and we expect all students to be in lessons and ready to learn by this time. We record centrally any minutes late which a student accrues; there are a range of sanctions used to remind students of the importance of punctuality.

Persistent Absence

The department for Education identifies attendance below 90% as ‘persistent absence’.  If a pupil was to end the academic school year on 90% attendance, this would equate to four whole weeks off school. This would mean 20 days, or over 100 hours, of missed learning.  The Heads of House monitor each student’s attendance very closely, and especially those who are at risk of falling into this category.  We write home to inform you when your child’s attendance drops to around the 92% level. Students who have this level of attendance will be invited into school, along with yourselves, to meet with the Head of House for a School Attendance Meeting (SAM). At this meeting we will look for opportunities to support an improvement in attendance; as a part of this process, internal attendance targets will be set.

Students who do not make an improvement in attendance following a SAM meeting, or those with a track record of weaker attendance, will be invited to a further formal meeting involving the Wiltshire Educational Welfare Officer and representatives from the school. These meetings set a formal set of attendance targets which, if not met, may lead to the prosecution of the parent/carer for failing to ensure adequate attendance of the child. Further details on the formal stages of our attendance procedures may be found in our Attendance Policy on the school website.

Holidays in Term Time

We do not authorise absence for family holidays in term time. However, we are aware that family circumstances and events can lead to requests for an absence to be authorised. Examples may include for a midweek wedding of a close family member, for a religious observance or through leave from active service being granted outside of term time for a member of our Armed Forces. In such circumstances, please complete a ‘Request for time off during term time’ form, available on our website, and return to the Headteacher for consideration as early as is practicable. Please note that, if an absence is taken which has not been authorised by the school, a Penalty Notice may be applied.

We hope that, by working together, we can continue to ensure that your child’s attendance rate remains high, and that we are therefore taking every opportunity to support their academic, mental and social development. If you require clarification on any of the points raised above please don’t hesitate to contact me.

D Hatcher
Attendance Officer / Head of Twickenham House
Kingdown School

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