Westwood Farm School


School Procedures

Any child who is absent from school at the morning or afternoon registration period must have their absence recorded as being authorised, unauthorised or as an approved educational activity (attendance out of school). Only the Headteacher or a member of staff acting on their behalf can authorise absence. If there is no known reason for the absence at registration, then the absence must be recorded in the first instance as unauthorised.

Absence will only be authorised by the Headteacher if the child has been reported as unwell by parents/carers.  Any other absence will only be authorised if there are exceptional circumstances.


Morning registration will take place at the start of school at 9.00am. The registers will remain ‘open’ for 15 minutes. Pupils arriving after the start of school but before the end of the registration period will be treated for statistical purposes, as ‘present’ or ‘in attendance’ but will be coded as ‘late’ before the registers close.

Any pupil arriving after this time (i.e. after 9.15am) will be marked as having an unauthorised absence unless there is an acceptable explanation i.e. school transport was delayed. In cases for example, where the absence at registration was for attending an early morning medical appointment, the appropriate authorised absence code will be entered.

The office staff will enter any child who is late (and therefore an ‘unauthorised absence’) into the ‘Student Arrival/Leaving’ file to ensure their attendance is recorded for fire drill purposes.

The afternoon registration for FS/KS1 will be at 1.20pm and KS2 at 1.15pm.

The registers will close immediately as pupils remain onsite during lunchbreak and therefore no ‘lates’ are recorded for afternoon sessions.

First Day Absence

Parents are expected to contact school by either telephone or parentmail to let us know that their child will not be attending, state why and the anticipated date for a return to school.  This should be repeated every subsequent day of absence.

Infant School Office number: 01189 426113

Junior School Office number: 01189 425182

The parents will be called, texted or emailed as soon as possible after 9.30am, for any child who is absent with no notification.  For children whose attendance is a concern (below 90% - the office hold a list of these children’s names), each morning of absence their parent or carer will be called to explain the absence. If attendance does not improve quickly the school will involve the Educational Welfare Officer (EWO).

 Attendance registers will be examined by the school, at least once per half term (i.e. 6x a year) and the school will identify any children of concern.

Each term the Attendance Lead will meet with the EWO to review attendance and see if any child needs to be added to/removed from the concern list.

Ten Days Absence

Any pupil who is absent without an explanation for 10 consecutive days will be notified to the LA through the EWO. The school will include details of the action that they have taken.

Frequent Absence

In cases where a pupil begins to develop a pattern of absences, the school will try to resolve the problem with the parent/s, carers. If this is unsuccessful the school will seek advice from the schools’ EWO. 

Each term, the Headteacher and/or the Attendance Lead and EWO discuss each child who is a concern and agree a way forward.

 Possible actions include:

  • A letter from the Attendance Lead/Headteacher to highlight concerns.
  • A letter from the EWO asking to make a home visit and discuss attendance.
  • A letter from the EWO inviting the family to an Attendance Panel. (This is a formal meeting to discuss absence, the implications of absence both in terms of education and parental responsibility and to identify and agree a way forward to improve attendance).

In cases where a pupil begins to develop a pattern of absences, the school will try to resolve the problem with the parent/s/carers If this is unsuccessful, the school will seek advice from the schools’ EWO. In exceptional circumstances, the LA may decide to move forward with a prosecution.

A ‘Welcome Back’

It is important that on return from a longer absence that all pupils are made to feel welcome. This should include ensuring that the pupil is helped to catch up on missed work and brought up to date on any information that has been passed to the other pupils.

Absence Notes

Notes received from parents (or recorded following a phone call), explaining absence should be kept for the remainder of the academic year. If there are attendance concerns about the pupil, that may require further investigation, then the notes may need to be retained for a longer period.

Promoting Attendance

The school will use opportunities as they arise to remind parents/carers, that it is their responsibility to ensure that their children attend school every day to ensure they receive their full education and are on time.

Request for Leave of Absence from School During Term Time: 

Education is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the DfE has recommended that holidays should not be taken in term time.

This school follows the DfE guidance when deciding whether to authorise leave of absence during term time.

“Headteachers will now only be able to grant a leave of absence during term time in exceptional circumstances – taking your child out of school during term time without specific permission can lead to legal action, including fines (https://www.gov.uk/school-attendance/legal-action-to-enforce-school-attendance)” – September 2013

Leave of absence in term time has a serious detrimental impact on a student’s education and can be damaging to an individual’s development in school and educational chances.

Leave of absence in term time are not a 'right' and should not automatically be granted.

  • No holiday absences will be authorised under any circumstanced during times when internal assessments/tests, SATs tests or revision are being undertaken.
  • Long weekends and ‘odd’ days off should not normally be authorised as term time leave of absence.
  • Approval will not be given for leave of absences which are taken due to cost of holiday or desired accommodation.
  • Poor weather experienced in school leave of absence periods.
  • Overlap with the beginning or end of term.
  • The attendance of a pupil for the 12 week period to the request being received will be taken into account.

Any absence taken where a request has been refused by the Headteacher, the absence will be recorded as 'Unauthorised Absence' and may lead to a fixed penalty notice.

All requests for absence from school during term time must be made on a ‘Request for Term time absence’ form, which is available from the school office.

 Fixed Penalty Notices

Missing school seriously affects children’s longer-term life opportunities.  Statistics show a direct link between attendance and attainment.  Penalty Notices come under the Education Act 1996 as amended by Section 23 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

Headteachers could previously grant leave of absence for the purposes of a family holiday of up to five school days per year.  New legislation removes this, stating instead that Headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Penalty Notices are issued to each parent or carer of the pupil; this means both mother and father/mother and mother/father and father where both parents reside with the child.

Circumstances in which a Fixed Penalty Fine may be issued: (see West Berks leaflet for parents)

  1. Where a pupil is present in a public place during the first 5 days of being excluded from school.
  2. Where the pupil has had 10 or more school days of unauthorised absence within any 10 week school period.
  3. Where a pupil has had 5 or more school days of unauthorised absence in a 10 week school period and the unauthorised absence relates to a planned leave of absence e.g. holiday.

 Where a FPF is issued, payment will be £60 if paid within 21 days.  If not paid within 21 days the Penalty is automatically increased to £120 if paid within 28 days.  If payment is not made within 28 days, the Council will proceed with formal legal action which may result in a fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal record.  Please note the Council is unable to accept payment by instalments for FPFs.

 The full Code of Conduct is available to view on the Council’s website at www.westberks.gov.uk

 Depending on the circumstances parents may be summonsed to court and prosecuted under Section 444 of the Education Act 1966 for failing to ensure regular school attendance of their child.

The Governing Board of Westwood Farm Schools has adopted this formal process and reserve the right to issue a Penalty Notice for unauthorised absence which is exceptional and where everything has been done to improve attendance for the child.

 Please refer to the West Berkshire Code of Conduct on Penalty Notices for further information on the West Berkshire website www.westberks.gov.uk