Donington Cowley Endowed Primary School is committed to providing a full and efficient education for all pupils.  The school believes sincerely that all pupils benefit from the education it provides and, therefore, from regular school attendance.  To this end, we will do as much as we can to ensure that all pupils achieve maximum possible attendance and that any problems, which may impede full attendance, are acted upon as quickly as possible. 
Under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 the parent of every child of compulsory school age has a duty to ensure that the child receives efficient full-time education suitable to the child’s age, ability and any special educational needs he or she may have. 

Term Time Absence  - The Legal Stuff...

The Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006 was amended and came into force from 1st September 2013.  The amendments have removed reference to family holiday and extended leave, as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days.  (Therefore the previous arrangement whereby schools could grant up to 10 days authorised holiday/absence has now ceased.)

As a result, if an application has been made for leave of absence for the purpose of a holiday, it will not be granted unless deemed to be ‘exceptional circumstances’.

If you wish to seek approval for any request of absence for your child(ren) from School, then you must apply in writing to the Headteacher, at least four weeks in advance of the requested absence.  You should only then remove you child(ren) if the absence has been authorised, and notified to you in writing by the School.  Any exceptional circumstances must be clearly set out in the written request to the Headteacher who will consider each case upon its merits.

If you then choose to take your child out of school during term time, and it is not deemed to be exceptional circumstances and/or has not been approved by the school, then this will be coded as an unauthorised absence and a  Penalty Notice will be issued for the period of absence.  Failure to pay a Penalty Notice may result in further legal action being taken against you.

A Penalty Notice is a strategy used by schools to address the unacceptable levels of attendance of children at their school under the following legislation:

  • Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 places upon parents a duty to ensure that their child receives efficient full-time education either by regular attendance at school or otherwise
  • Where a child is a registered pupil at a school and the parent fails to ensure that child’s regular attendance at school the parent is liable to be prosecuted for a criminal offence under Section 444 of the Education Act 
  • Penalty Notices are issued to parents as an alternative to prosecution where they have failed to ensure that their child of compulsory school age regularly attends the school where they are registered or, in certain cases, at a place where alternative provision is provided.  Penalty notices can be used by all schools (with the exception of independent schools) where the pupil’s absence has been recorded with one or more of the unauthorised codes and that absence(s) constitutes an offence.  A penalty notice can be issued to each parent liable for the offence or offences.  They should usually only be issued to the parent or parents who have allowed the absence (regardless of which parent has applied for a leave of absence).

    The threshold is 10 sessions of unauthorised absence in a rolling period of 10 school weeks.  A school week means any week in which there is at least one school session.  This can be met with any combination of unauthorised absence (e.g. 4 sessions of holiday taken in term time plus 6 sessions of arriving late after the register closes all within 10 school weeks).  These sessions can be consecutive (e.g. 10 sessions of holiday in one week) or not (e.g. 6 sessions of unauthorised absence taken in 1 week and 1 per week for the next 4 weeks).  The period of 10 school weeks can also span different terms or school years (e.g. 2 sessions of unauthorised absence in the Summer Term and a further 8 within the Autumn Term).

    A penalty notice is an out of court settlement, which is intended to change behaviour without the need for criminal prosecution.  If repeated penalty notices are being issued and they are not working to change behaviour they are unlikely to be most appropriate tool.  Therefore, from Autumn Term 2024, only 2 penalty notices can be issued to the same parent in respect of the same child within a 3 year rolling period and any second notice within that period is charged at a higher rate:

  • The first penalty notice issued to a parent in respect of a particular pupil will be charged at £160 if paid within 28 days.  This will be reduced to £80 if paid within 21 days. 

  • A second penalty notice issued to the same parent in respect of the same pupil is charged at a flat rate of £160 if paid within 28 days.

  • A third penalty notice cannot be issued to the same parent in respect of the same child within 3 years of the date of issue of the first.  In a case where the national threshold is met for a third time (or subsequent times) within those 3 years, alternative action should be taken instead.  This will often include considering prosecution, but may include other tools such as one of the other attendance legal interventions.

Please note: A Fixed Penalty Notice can also be issued if your child is seen in a public place within the first 5 days of an exclusion from their school.

This is in accordance with Working Together to improve school attendance - Statutory guidance for maintained schools, academies, independent schools and local authorities which applies from: 19th August 2024

Procedure for reporting absence:
We of course understand that, from time-to-time children become unwell and will need to have time off school.  It is vital that parents contact us on the first day of their child's absence so that we know the reason for the absence and the register can be coded correctly.  School can be contacted by:
  • Sending an absence message via Parentmail
  • Telephoning the School Office 01775 820467
  • Emailing the School Office - enquiries@cowley.lincs.sch.uk or emailing the class teacher directly on the class email.