St Bonaventure's Catholic Primary School
Tel 0117 353 2830
Absence Line 0117 353 2831

Frequently asked questions on attendance

When is my child late? 

The school day starts on the school playground at 8.50am with all the children in their class lines saying the morning prayer together.  Children then follow their teacher into classrooms and the classteacher takes the register.  If a child is not present at the beginning of taking the register then they will be marked as late “L”.  If a child arrives after 9.10am they will be marked as “U” which means an unauthorised absence. 

What is the difference between a “L” and a “U” lateness?

Both marks indicate lateness.  The “L” is used before 9.10am and the “U” is used after 9.10am.  “L” is an authorised lateness and “U” is not authorised.  Persistent “L” or “U” marks are monitored both by the School and the Education Welfare Service and indicate that there may be an underlying problem which needs to be addressed.  Persistent “U” marks can result in a penalty notice being issued.

Why have I received a letter about my child’s attendance?

It is the school’s responsibility to inform parents if there are any concerns about their child’s attendance.  This could be concerns about absences and/or about lateness.  We have set trigger points which will result in a parent/carer receiving a letter about their child’s attendance. These letters are to inform parents so that they can make adjustments to improve attendance. Alternatively we can open the lines of communication to discuss any issues you have and see if the school can offer any additional support. 

Why do I need to report my child as absent by 9.30am?

It is the school’s legal requirement to know where its pupils are during school hours.  However, and more importantly, it is the school's responsibility to report to you if your child has not arrived safely at school. This is essential for our older children who walk to school on their own.  In the morning our first tasks are checking the emails, texts and answerphone messages to see if we have a message from you.  If we have not heard from you by 9.30am you will receive a prompt via the school texting system asking you to contact the school. 

Why have I received a text message asking where my child is, when they are in school?

Teachers complete their registers online and then start their lessons.  The school office then runs a report to list all the pupils who have missed registration and for whom we have had no message regarding absence. Please understand that it is impractical for us to go around all the classrooms double checking to see if children have arrived after registration as we do not want to interrupt classes.  The main reasons for a child being marked as absent when they are in school are:

  • A child has just missed the register being taken and they have not reported arriving late to the office. 
  • A child is taking part in an extra initiative (early morning lesson) and the classteacher isn’t in the classroom to provide the office with that information.
  • Even though your child is in school it is still vital that you contact us to inform us. In the office, we are unable to physically see your child - we will continue chasing you until we have a response.  

My child is sick for a second day - do I need to report it every day that he/she is unwell?

Please inform us on the first day if your child is unwell and not able to come to school.  If your child does not come to school the following day we will assume that they are still unwell.  Please could you provide us with a letter for your child’s file on their return to school if they have had more than 1 day off school.

Do I need to provide evidence of absence?

If a child has low attendance (below 85%) the Education Welfare Service advises us to ask for evidence in support of absences.  Evidence can be in the form of a doctor/dentist appointment card, hospital letter, copy of prescription etc. In some cases we may ask for a form to be completed by the doctor/dentist.  We believe it is good practice to keep a child’s records up to date and  ask that where a parent/carer has evidence that they provide the school with it. 

Why can’t my family holiday be authorised?

The School follows DFE and Bristol LA Policy which states that we are not able to authorise pupil’s absence for family holidays.  We are sympathetic to the reasons behind absence requests. However, we are only permitted to authorise absences from school in exceptional circumstances.  Each request is considered on its individual merits – taking into account the circumstances surrounding the request, pupil’s educational needs, pupil’s ability to catch up on work, the pupil’s general absence/attendance record, the amount of time requested, the age of the pupil and proximity to SATs.

It is a parents' responsibility to ensure that their child attends school. Whilst ultimately it is the parents' decision whether they choose to carry on and take their children out of school even if the absence has been unauthorised, the absence will be noted by the Education Welfare Service and frequent unauthorised absences or lateness may result in a penalty notice being issued.