Our aim is to work with parents to ensure that all our students receive the most from their education and reach their full potential.

Where parents decide to have their child registered at school, they have an additional legal duty to ensure their child attends that school regularly.

Research commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) shows missing school for even a day can mean a child is less likely to achieve good grades, which can have a damaging effect on their life chances.  At Downham Market Academy our aim is to work with parents to ensure that all our students receive the most from their education and reach their full potential.

This letter is to remind all parents about the expectations for students’ attendance at Downham Market Academy and the law that requires parents to ensure their child attends school regularly.  The Government is very clear that no child should miss school apart from in exceptional circumstances and schools must take steps to reduce absence to support children’s attainment.

Expected attendance at Downham Market Academy is 100% and regular attendance is a minimum of 96%; this is equivalent to students attending school for 182 of the 190 days possible in a school year. Attendance can be summarised as shown in the table below:

Attendance percentageDays of school missedAttendance rating
98% and above4 days or lessOutstanding
96% and above8 days or lessGood
94% and above12 days or lessRequires improvement
Below 94%More than 12 daysInadequate

Attendance information, like exam certificates, will travel with your child once they leave Downham Market Academy as this information is requested by Colleges of Further Education, Sixth Forms, employers and training providers. Attendance information is also shared with both the Local Authority and the DfE so it is important for parents and carers to understand their roles and responsibilities to work in partnership with the school to achieve good attendance for their children.

The DfE policy document entitled, ‘Working together to improve school attendance’ states:

  • Only exceptional circumstances warrant a leave of absence. Schools should consider each application individually taking into account the specific facts and circumstances and relevant background context behind the request.
  • If a leave of absence is granted, it is for the head teacher to determine the length of the time the pupil can be away from school.
  • As head teachers should only grant leaves of absence in exceptional circumstances it is unlikely a leave of absence will be granted for the purposes of a family holiday.

If the school does not receive a request for leave, the head teacher will be unable to consider your individual circumstances and the absence will be recorded as unauthorised. There will be no obligation on the head teacher to reconsider authorising the leave if an application has not been made in advance.

The Local Authority (Norfolk County Council) operates a system where any pupil will meet the criteria for legal intervention if they have at least 9 sessions (4.5 school days) lost to unauthorised absence by the pupil during 6 school weeks. This intervention could be in the form of a fixed penalty notice or a court hearing. Any pupil at Downham Market Academy who meets the criteria, will be referred to the Local Authority for action to be considered.

A Fixed Penalty Notice will be issued to each parent for each child. Penalty notices are £120 to be paid within 28 days and decrease to £60 if paid within 21 days of issue. Failure to pay usually results in prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court. A parent may receive more than one separate penalty notice resulting from unauthorised absence. When penalty notices are issued each parent will receive one per child. Therefore, each parent could receive multiple notices if they have more than 1 child who has been absent. You should be aware that failure to pay the total amount within the timescale will result in legal action being taken. In some circumstances, the Norfolk County Council Attendance Team may choose not to issue a further penalty notice in the same academic year and may instead choose to prosecute a parent under the Education Act 1996 S444. There is no right of appeal by parents against a fixed penalty notice.

At Downham Market Academy, attendance is monitored on a daily basis and we expect every child to attend every day unless there are mitigating circumstances. A child will be classed as absent if they are not in school or if they arrive after the register for each school session has closed. It should be noted this this includes absences for medical appointments that are made during the school day. Additionally, the Local Authority advise that a child should have no more than one or two broken weeks in a school year; a broken week occurs every time a child is absent and misses part of the school day. Regular broken weeks are a cause for concern and will trigger attendance monitoring processes.

Reporting Absence

At Downham Market Academy, we understand there are occasionally legitimate reasons for your child not being able to attend school, such as due to illness and unforeseen family circumstances. If your child is ill and unable to attend school, please inform the school by 8:30am by one of the following methods:

When reporting an absence, please ensure that you provide:

  • your child’s name
  • personal development group
  • the reason for absence.

It is expected that absences for medical and dental appointments should be made, when possible, outside of the school day. When this is not possible, please fill in a planned absence request form linked below. Such requests should ideally be submitted two weeks prior to the date of the requested absence. Downham Market Academy offers support in line with the Attendance Policy for students and families where attendance becomes a concern. This may include meetings with your child’s Personal Development Tutor, Pastoral Lead or the Assistant Headteacher responsible for attendance. These meetings can vary from simple discussions through to formal Fast Track to Attendance procedures. The aim of all such meetings is to identify the causes of attendance issues and to put in place the support needed for each child to be able to attend school more frequently.

Requesting Absence

We strongly discourage taking students out of the Academy during term time but appreciate that under some circumstances this is unavoidable.  For any non-medical, planned absences, please complete our Online Absence Form.

Additional Information

  • You can find our full absence policy in the Policy Bank

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