In keeping with our school ethos; Valley Gardens Middle School constantly strives to promote positive attendance, and punctuality from our students. Excellent attendance is central to raising standards, whilst absence leaves students vulnerable to falling behind. As a school we are keen to support both families and students in reaching their full potential at school and we believe high attendance is a contributing factor to this.
Bouts of absence can be unavoidable however, so please see the information below on what to do if you need to report an absence or make a request to take your child out of school for an appointment
NB: Our office staff will contact parent/carers where the reasons for absence are not known once the morning register is complete, so we would kindly ask that you notify us as early as possible.
Reporting an absence – if your child is absent from school due to illness, please leave a message on the absence line as early as possible in the morning by ringing 0191 917 6667 and choosing option 1.
Please let us know:
- Your child’s name and form-class
- A summary of the illness, including a brief description of the symptoms. (Please note we cannot accept, ‘unwell’ or ‘ill’ as a reason for absence)
Following this initial contact, please ring the school on a daily basis to indicate if your child will require further days off as a result of their illness.
For some illnesses, for instance asymptomatic cases of COVID 19 it may be possible to provide remote learning work – please let the school office know if you would like to access this.
If your child needs to be excused from school for a medical appointment, a student pass is required from the school office (with a letter of explanation).
If you would like to take your child out of school for a holiday or occasional absence please obtain a form from the school office (with a letter of explanation) or download one of the forms below.
Please be aware that the school will rarely authorise absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances that are unavoidable.
Medicines in school – It is now no longer possible for the school to either be in possession of, or to administer un-prescribed medication e.g. calpol or other forms of pain relief. We are able to accept inhalers, epi-pens and medication in relation to a specific condition. Please note, any medication sent into school must be clearly labelled with the child’s name and dosage details in the original container provided by the pharmacist under medical instruction. Such medication must remain in the school office. Antibiotics that require 3 equal doses should not be sent into school. Please complete any of the appropriate forms below and return with medication to the school office.
Authorised and unauthorised absence
Approval for term-time absence
The headteacher will only grant a leave of absence to a pupil during term time if they consider there to be ‘exceptional circumstances’. A leave of absence is granted at the headteacher’s discretion, including the length of time the pupil is authorised to be absent for.
We define ‘exceptional circumstances’ as one off events which are unavoidable. For example:
• Funeral of parent, grandparent, sibling or close family member – taking account of travel and funeral arrangements.
• Sudden loss of housing through eviction or domestic violence.
• Serious illness of a close relative – though only if the Headteacher is satisfied that the circumstances are truly exceptional.
• Out of school programmes such as music, arts or sport operating at a high standard of achievement and agreed by the Local Authority as appropriate.
• Time- off relating to Child Entertainment Performances, subject to a license being issued by Education Services
• Weddings of parents and siblings – though only when the Headteacher is satisfied that there is a persuasive reason for holding the wedding during term time.
The school considers each application for term-time absence individually, taking into account the specific facts, circumstances and relevant context behind the request. The school will also consider current levels of absence, particularly unauthorised absence when making a decision.
Any request should be submitted as soon as it is anticipated and, where possible, at least three weeks before the absence and no later than five working school days prior to the absence, and in accordance with the leave of absence request form, accessible via the school website or our school office. The headteacher may require evidence to support any request for leave of absence.
Valid reasons for authorised absence include:
• Illness and medical/dental appointments (see sections 4.2 and 4.3 for more detail)
• Religious observance – where the day is exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which the pupil’s parents belong. If necessary, the school will seek advice from the parents’ religious body to confirm whether the day is set apart
• Traveller pupils travelling for occupational purposes – this covers Roma, English and Welsh gypsies, Irish and Scottish travellers, showmen (fairground people) and circus people, bargees (occupational boat dwellers) and new travellers. Absence may be authorised only when a traveller family is known to be travelling for occupational purposes and has agreed this with the school, but it is not known whether the pupil is attending educational provision
The school or local authority can fine parents for the unauthorised absence of their child from school, where the child is of compulsory school age
If issued with a fine, or penalty notice, each parent must pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days. The payment must be made directly to the local authority.
Penalty notices can be issued by a headteacher, local authority officer or the police.
The decision on whether or not to issue a penalty notice may take into account:
• The number of unauthorised absences occurring within a rolling academic year
• One-off instances of irregular attendance, such as holidays taken in term time without permission
• Where an excluded pupil is found in a public place during school hours without a justifiable reason
If the payment has not been made after 28 days, the local authority can decide whether to prosecute or withdraw the notice.
North Tyneside Council Penalty Notice procedures:
The Local Authority will issue a Penalty Notice in response to requests made by school provided that the following conditions have been met: –
• a leave of absence has been taken without the permission of the Head teacher
• a leave of absence has been agreed and the pupil returns to school after the agreed date without explanation
• no application for leave has been made
• the child has been removed from school for 10 or more sessions (5 days)
• the Local Authority is satisfied that the parent had full knowledge of the procedures and the possible consequences
• the request is made within 3 weeks of the child’s return
Information about North Tyneside’s Penalty Notice procedures can be found on their website.