The main factors contributing to the formulation of this policy can be summarised as follows:
To maintain regular attendance as an essential factor in our pupils’ learning
Legislative requirements such as the Education Welfare Act 2000 and the Education Act, 1998
The role of TUSLA (Child and Family Agency), incorporating NEWB (National Educational Welfare Board)
Aims and Objectives
This policy is geared towards:
ensuring that pupils are registered accurately and efficiently
ensuring that pupil attendance is recorded daily
encouraging full attendance where possible
identifying pupils at risk
promoting a positive learning environment
raising awareness of the importance of school attendance
fostering an appreciation of learning
identify pupils at risk of leaving school early
ensuring compliance with the requirements of the relevant legislation
developing, subject to available resources, links between the school and the families of children who may be at risk of developing attendance problems
identifying and removing, insofar as is practicable, obstacles to school attendance
Compliance with School Ethos
This policy complements the school ethos of nurturing potential in a caring environment where the welfare of children is paramount.
Roles and Responsibilities
All staff have an input into the implementation of the policy. Class teachers record individual patterns of attendance and the Assistant Principal I makes regular returns to NEWB/TUSLA.
It is the responsibility of the Principal and staff to implement this policy under the guidance of the school’s Board of Management.
School begins at 8.30am for Junior Infants to 2 nd class and at 8.40am for 3 rd to 6 th class. All pupils and teachers are expected to be on time. The class teacher will speak to parents/guardians in the event of pupils being consistently late. Lack of punctuality is recorded on Aladdin.
Recording and Reporting Attendance
The school attendance of individual pupils is recorded on Aladdin on a daily basis.
If a pupil does not attend on a day when the school is open for instruction, his/her non-attendance is recorded by the class teacher. The roll call is taken by 9.50 a.m. each morning. Any pupil not present will be marked absent for the day. A message on Aladdin or Seesaw, an email or a phonecall from parents/guardians is required to explain each absence. Late arrivals and early departures are recorded by the class teacher and, if the problem persists, are reported to the principal.
Parents/guardians are made aware of the requirements of TUSLA/NEWB particularly those relating to absences of more than 20 days per school year. Pupils whose non-attendance is a concern are contacted by phone and/or email and/or letter and may also be invited to meet with the Principal to be informed of the school’s concerns.
The school must inform the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) in writing, where a child has missed 20 or more days in a school year, where attendance is irregular, where a pupil is removed from the school register and where a child is suspended or expelled for 6 days or more.
The school promotes good attendance by:
creating a safe, happy and welcoming environment
displaying kindness, compassion and understanding
being vigilant so that risks to good attendance such as disadvantage, bullying etc. are identified early
rewarding good attendance with certificates or medals at the end of the school year.
National Education Welfare Board
The Education Welfare Officer is informed if:
A child is expelled
A child is suspended
A child has missed more than 20 days.
The NEWB is furnished with the total attendances in the school year through the Annual Report Form which is completed on-line.
Whole School Strategies to Promote Attendance
St. Columba’s N.S. endeavours to create a safe, welcoming environment for our pupils and their parents/guardians.
The teaching staff collaborates in the planning and implementation of the primary school curriculum, so as to provide a stimulating learning environment for all pupils.
Traditionally, school attendance is very strong in our school. However, the staff remains vigilant so that ‘risk’ students are identified early. Risk students can be categorised as those who miss more than 5 days in a 20-day period without an accompanying note of explanation from parents/guardians. Appropriate contact takes place between the school and parents/guardians either via a phonecall, email, letter or on Seesaw.
A meeting between parents and the Principal may be set up if deemed necessary. Absences of more than 20 days are automatically referred to the EWO (Education Welfare Officer).
New entrants and their parents/guardians are reminded of the school’s expectation in relation to school attendance. There is a focus on the value of regular attendance and on the importance of developing good attendance habits from Junior Infants onwards.
Our homework policy, drawn up in consultation with parents/guardians, clearly outlines the school’s expectations in terms of the quantity of homework assigned and in the quality of homework presented.
There is a consistent approach to homework throughout the school.
The calendar for the coming school year is published annually in the Newsletter before the summer holidays and is also available on the school website. It is hoped that this approach will enable parents/guardians to plan family events around school closures, thus minimising the chances of non-attendance related to family holidays during the school term.
Pupils are expected to wear the correct school uniform.
Parents/guardians are informed if a child has no lunch, and if one cannot be provided for him/her, the school will provide healthy food and a drink.
The question of equality of access is addressed through the school’s policy on Equality of Access and Participation.
Strategies in the Event of Non-Attendance
Section 17 of the Education (Welfare) Act (2000), states that ‘the parent of a child shall cause the child concerned to attend a recognised school on each school day’.
Section 21 of the Act obliges schools to inform the Education Welfare Officer if a child is absent on more than 20 days in any school year, or if a child does not attend school on a regular basis.
In such cases the Education Welfare Officer (following all reasonable efforts by TUSLA/ NEWB to consult with the child’s parents and the Principal of the school) may serve a ‘School Attendance Notice’ on any parent who he/she concludes is failing or neglecting to cause the child to attend the school. A successful case taken against the parent may result in a fine and/or imprisonment.
Reasons for absence are recorded and reported to the NEWB during the school year through an online system. An annual report is submitted in early July each year detailing the overall level of attendance at the school during that school year.
Transfer to Another School
Under Section 20 of the Education (Welfare) Act (2000), the Principal of a child’s current school must notify the Principal of the child’s previous school that the child is now registered in their school.
When a Principal receives notification that a child has been registered elsewhere he/she must notify the
Principal of the pupil’s new school of any problems in relation to attendance at the pupil’s former school and of such matters relating to the child’s educational progress as he or she considers appropriate. This applies to pupils who transfer between primary schools and to pupils who transfer from primary to second-level education.
The school can contact the local EWO for advice when necessary.
The school maintains communication with local second-level schools in order to make the transition for pupils as easy as possible.
Communication with other Schools
When a child transfers from St. Columba’s N.S. to another school, the schools records on attendance, academic progress etc will be forwarded on receipt of written notification of the transfer and a request for such records.
When a child transfers into St. Columba’s N.S. confirmation of transfer will be communicated to the child’s previous school, and appropriate records sought
Pupils transferring from St. Columba’s N.S. to a post primary school will have their records forwarded on receipt of confirmation of enrolment.
Communication with Parents
The school informs all parents of the implications of non-attendance as per the Education Welfare Act 2000. This information is disseminated by regular school Newsletters. Parents of new children are informed on enrolment.
Parents/guardians can promote good school attendance by:
ensuring regular and punctual school attendance
notifying the school if their children cannot attend for any reason
working with the school and the TUSLA/ NEWB to resolve any attendance problems
making sure their children understand that parents support good school attendance
discussing planned absences with the school
refraining, if possible, from taking holidays during school time
showing an interest in their children’s school day and their children’s homework
encouraging them to participate in school activities
praising and encouraging their children’s achievements
instilling in their children a positive self-concept and a positive sense of self-worth
informing the school in writing of the reasons for absence from school
ensuring, insofar as is possible, that children’s appointments (with dentists etc), are arranged for times outside of school hours
contacting the school immediately, if they have concerns about absence or other related school matters
notifying the school if their child/children, particularly children in junior classes, are to be collected by someone not known to the class teacher.
The success of the Attendance Policy is measured through:
Improved attendance levels as measured through Aladdin records and statistical returns
Happy confident well adjusted children
Positive parental feedback