Attendance at School

Young people of school age may be unable to attend school for a wide range of reasons including illness, accidents or long term medical conditions. In general there will be an automatic referral by the school for education outwith school after 15 days of continuous or 20 working days of intermittent absence, within a single session, for verifiable medical reasons.

Parents should inform the school by telephone on the first morning of an absence, and provide a reason for the pupil’s absence. The school will contact the pupil’s family and thereafter other emergency contacts if no explanation is given for the pupil’s absence. This contact will be made before 10 am on the first morning of an absence and early after the restart after lunch in the case of an afternoon absence.

Other agencies may be contacted if no contact with the pupil’s family can be achieved and if there are continuing or emerging concerns about a pupil’s safety or wellbeing.
On return to school parents should provide a note explaining the reasons for absence.

Parents should keep the school informed of any changes of address or telephone numbers, both their own and those of the emergency contacts
Section 30 of the 1980 Education Act lays a duty on every parent of a child of ‘school age’ to ensure that their child attends school regularly. Attendance must be recorded twice a day, morning and afternoon.

The Scottish Government has provided guidance on the management of attendance and absence in Scottish schools in its publication Included, Engaged and Involved – part 1: Attendance in Scottish Schools. Every effort should be made to avoid family holidays during term time as this both disrupts the child’s education and reduces learning time. It has been clarified that family holidays should not be recorded as authorised absence, except in exceptional domestic circumstances, where a family needs time together to recover from distress, or where a parent’s employment is of a nature where school-holiday leave cannot be accommodated (e.g. armed services or emergency services). It is for local authorities and schools to judge when these circumstances apply and authorise absence, accordingly.

The categorisation of most term-time holidays as unauthorised absence has been a contentious issue for some families, many of whom are concerned at the higher cost of holidays during school holiday periods. The Scottish Government has no control over the pricing decisions of holiday companies or flight operators. Our main focus is to encourage parents and pupils to recognise the value of learning and the pitfalls of disrupting learning for the pupil, the rest of the class and the teacher.

Clearly where an absence occurs with no explanation from the parent, the absence is unauthorised.

Schools investigate unexplained absence, and Education Services has the power to write to, interview or prosecute parents, or to refer pupils to the Children’s Reporter, if necessary.

When children need to be away from school, e.g. to keep dental appointments, parents are asked to consult the Head Teacher in advance. Requests for leave of absence for whatever reason should always be made in writing well in advance.

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