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Introduction and Rationale
In Convent N.S. Castlecomer we feel that regular attendance in school is of vital importance to children’s learning. Quite simply, we feel that a child cannot learn if he/she is not in regular attendance in school. There is a very strong tradition of good attendance in Convent N.S. Castlecomer. However, since it is a requirement under the Education Welfare Act 2000 for schools to encourage pupils to be in attendance at all times, we are anxious at to put in place an attendance policy which will set out clearly the schools position in relation to attendance and the strategies the school has put in place to foster children’s learning through promoting and encouraging good attendance by all pupils.

Relationship to characteristic spirit of the school
This school attendance policy is in keeping with the school’s ethos as articulated in the mission statement Presentation Convent N. S. is a Catholic, primary school, which strives to provide a well ordered, caring, happy and secure atmosphere where the intellectual, spiritual, physical, moral and cultural needs of the pupils are identified and addressed…..

We encourage the involvement of parents through home/school contacts and through their involvement in the Parents Association and we endeavour to enhance the self-esteem of everyone in the school community, to imbue in the pupils respect for people and property and to encourage in them the idea of being responsible.

Aims
In introducing this attendance policy we aim to:
• foster an appreciation of learning among our school community and enhance the learning environment where children can make progress in all aspects of their development
• raise awareness of the importance of regular school attendance and encourage pupils to attend school regularly and punctually.
• share the promotion of school attendance amongst all in the school community.
• inform the school community of its role and responsibility as outlined in the Education Act.
• identify pupils who may be at risk of developing school attendance problems.
• ensure that the school has procedures in place to promote attendance/participation.
• develop, subject to available resources, links between the school and the families of children who may be at risk of developing attendance problems.
• identify and remove, insofar as is practicable, obstacles to school attendance,
• ensure that the system of rules, rewards, and sanctions are implemented in a fair and consistent manner that encourage pupils to attend school
• comply with requirements under Education Welfare Act 2000/Guidelines from NEWB
The school will ensure that:
• The importance of school attendance is promoted throughout the school.
• Pupils are registered accurately and efficiently.
• Pupil attendance is recorded daily.
• Parents or guardians are contacted when reasons for absences are unknown or have not been communicated.
• Pupil attendance and lateness is monitored.
• School attendance statistics are reported as appropriate to:
• The Education Welfare Board.
• The Education Welfare Officer
• The Board of Management
Definition of students at risk of non-attendance:
Students who are at risk of developing school attendance problems are categorised as follows;
a) Irregular Absentee: 2/5 days absent in a 20-day period without a valid reason.
b) Seriously Irregular Absentee: 6/10 days absent in a 20-day period without a valid reason.
c) Chronic Absentee: 11+ days absent in a 20-day period without a valid reason.
Appropriate contact will take place between the school and parents/guardians of these children.
d) For Irregular Absentees the teacher will inform the parents by letter of her/his concerns about the child and seek to meet the parents to discuss the matter.
e) For Seriously Irregular Absentees the Principal will write to parents inviting them to a meeting to discuss the problem.
f) For Chronic Absentees the Principal will inform the Education Welfare Officer and notify parents of this by letter.
Recording attendance and non-attendance:
Each class teacher is responsible for recording class attendance and non-attendance each day in an official rolla book. This information is forwarded to the principal who enters it in the leabhar tinrimh. Parents are asked to give a reason for their child’s absence in accordance with the school’s code of behaviour in writing or by verbal communication and the school’s homework diary contains detachable slips to facilitate this. A record of reasons for non-attendance is maintained by each class teacher and, at intervals, the names of children with worrying levels of non-attendance are communicated to the principal.

Punctuality
School is open from 9.00 a.m. and children are required to be in their classrooms not later than 9.05 a.m. All pupilsand teachers are expected to be on time. The school will contact parents/guardians in the event of pupils being consistently late. The Principal is obliged under The Educational Welfare Act, to report children who are persistently late, to the Education Welfare Board.

Guidance for Parents
Section [(21) (9)] of the Act states that: “a pupil’s absence can only be authorised by the Principal when the child is involved in activities organised by the school or in which the school is involved”. The school principal cannot authorise a child’s absence for holidays during school time. However, it is essential that parents inform the school of such arrangements.

Reasons for pupils’ absences must be communicated in writing, by parents/guardians to the school and will be retainedby the school. To facilitate this, such communications should not be in the homework diary, but on a separate page or sheet of paper. If a child is absent, when the child returns to school s/he should give/send a written note to the class teacher which contains the child’s name, the dates of absence and the reason for the absence. These notes will form a record which may be inspected by the Education Welfare Officer on a visit to the school.
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 education welfare service to resolve any attendance problems;
• Making sure their children understand that parents support approve of school attendance;
• Discussing planned absences with the school.
• Refraining, if at all 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, in writing, the school if their child/children, particularly children in junior classes, are to be collected by someone not known to the teacher.

Pupils
Pupils have the clear responsibility to attend school regularly and punctually.
Pupils should inform staff if there is a problem that may lead to their absence.
Pupils are responsible for promptly passing on absence notes from parents to their class teacher.
Pupils are responsible for passing school correspondence to their parents, on the specified day.

Whole school strategies to promote attendance:
The following strategies have been put in place in the school to help foster an appreciation of learning and good attendance:
• Environment: As a school, and within the classroom, we endeavour to create a safe, welcoming environment for our pupils and their parents. The school promotes the development of good self-concept and self-worth in the children. We encourage punctuality amongst pupils whilst demonstrating understanding of occasional lateness due to unforeseen circumstances.

• Support for children with special needs: Support for pupils, who have special educational needs, are in place in accordance with Department of Education & Science guidelines. Internal communication procedures are in place to inform teachers of the special needs of pupils. Pupils with a poor attendance record will, insofar as is practicable, be supported in an effort to improve their attendance.

• Early intervention: We target new mothers/fathers by informing them of procedures in relation to attendance and the importance of attendance at an initial meeting with parents in the term before their child starts school. This message is reinforced at a parent teacher meeting at the beginning of the school year and in parent newsletters.

• Assessment: The school ensures that timings of assessment tests are varied and unpredictable so that pupils will be unlikely to miss school because of an assessment test.
• Rewards: The school rewards improvement in attendance and good attendance by:
 Praising pupils in class and sending to the principal or other class teachers
 Linking improvement in attendance with improved performance in school
 Giving merit awards at intervals throughout the year
 Prize-giving ceremony at end of year assembly for pupils with full, high and improved attendance.

• Recording Attendance: The attendance rates of pupils is monitored by the class teacher in the first instance, and the class teacher notifies the Principal of any concerns regarding the attendance of any child.We involve pupils with poor record of attendance in recording their own attendance, thereby giving them a sense of being involved in their own progress and learning.

• Reports: We report the total amount of days missed in a year to parents in the end of year reports/parent teacher meetings and demonstrate the proportion of the school year as a whole.

• Curriculum and timetable: The school curriculum, insofar as is practicable, is flexible and relevant to the needs of the individual child.Staff is mindful of timetabling implications for attendance. For example, interesting subjects are timetabled for early morning or interesting methodologies are utilised to encourage punctuality.

• Parents: We communicate the requirements of schools and of parents under the Education Welfare Act to parents in newsletters and at parent-teacher meetings. We refer parents to the Don’t Let Your Child Miss Out (leaflet for parents NEWB 2004)

• Education Welfare Officer: The assistance of the Education Welfare Officer will be utilised.
Communication with other schools
• Primary: To promote good attendance we co-ordinate school closures with the local boy’s school • Post-primary: We liaise with the local Community school and other post-primary schools in relation to attendance and other matters when our pupils are transferring to them.
Strategies in event of non-attendance
• The school informs the Educational Welfare Officer in writing where a child is suspended or expelled for 6 days or more, where the child has missed 20 or more days in a school year, where attendance is irregular and when the pupil is removed from the school register
• Parents are aware of their statutory duties outlined in Education Welfare Act in relation to causing their children to attend school? They are referred to the Don’t Let Your Child Miss Out (leaflet for parents NEWB 2004)
• Parents are aware of the schools duties outlined in the Education Welfare Act in relation to reporting the non-attendance of a child to the Education Welfare Officer, of the serving of a “school attendance notice” by the Education Welfare Officer (following all reasonable efforts by the Education Board to consult with the child’s parents and the principal of the school) on any parent who they conclude is failing or neglecting to cause the child to attend the school and of the possible consequence of a successful case being taken against the parent
(fine and/or imprisonment)?
• Parents are expected to communicate reasons for non-attendance to the class teacher using the detachable slips provided in the homework diary.

 

 

 

 

Presentation Convent N.S. Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny.
Phone:056 444 1426 E-mail: info@prescomerns.scoilnet.ie
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