School Attendance

Dear parents and carers of all children in The Pegasus Academy Trust,


I am writing to introduce myself as Sonia Wesley, the Trust’s Admissions and Attendance Officer.  My job is to support families with any issues concerning applications to school and challenges with attendance and punctuality.  You are welcome to get in touch with me if you would like advice or any questions answered. I visit all of the schools each week if you would like to meet me. My email is

The Department for Education has published updates to its guidance for schools which comes into effect in September 2024. It is entitled “Working Together to Improve School Attendance” and I am writing this to provide you with a clear outline about absence procedures and Government regulations concerning pupil attendance.  There are 365 days in a year, but only 190 school days. This leaves 175 non-school days to spend on holidays, family time, visits and other appointments.  Unbroken attendance at school is important for learning. Education is also about more than just learning: it’s about opportunities, experiences, people, play and community.

We appreciate there may be times when absence is unavoidable and acceptable.  This letter explains the approach we are following to manage attendance.

Types of Absence

Each absence is classed as either ‘authorised’ or ‘unauthorised’.  Absences are coded as authorised where reasons are considered valid and unauthorised where no explanation or unacceptable reasons are given.

Unacceptable Reasons

The following reasons are not acceptable:

  • shopping visits;
  • care for family members;
  • days out to theme parks or to attend concerts/shows;
  • parents’ work commitments or business trips;
  • holidays taken in term time (including long weekends taken on Fridays and/or Mondays);
  • parental illness;

Unauthorised absences are always referred to me.

Illness and First Day Call

If your child is unable to attend school through illness you should inform the school office through Studybugs on the first day of absence before 9.30am.  Alternatively you can email the school, telephone or call in person at the office. It is useful to know the expected day of return. If you do not supply us with this information we have a duty to contact you so that we may be sure of a child’s whereabouts as this is a safeguarding measure.  Where a child is absent through illness or medical appointments this will normally be counted as authorised.  Where we have concerns over excessive absence patterns through illness we will need to discuss this with parents in order to gain a better understanding of the problems and to offer support.

Medical/Dental Appointments

It is better if these can be arranged outside school hours, but we know this is not always possible.  Where children need to attend such appointments during the school day please try wherever possible to make these at the beginning or end of the day to minimise disruption to learning.  Please bring your child to the office on collection or return and indicate in advance whether they will be returning for lunch.  Medical and dental appointments count as authorised absences if you provide an appointment card/confirmation email.

Emergency Occasions

There are some occasions e.g. bereavements, family problems, where it may be inappropriate for children to attend school. We will be sympathetic to such needs.


Please try to ensure that your child arrives at school between 8:45am and 9:00am so that they are present for their first work of the day and then registration at 9:00am.  Children who arrive late miss out on vital phonics/early morning work and have an unsettled start to their day.  Lateness also causes problems with lunch numbers, register marking and missed instructions. Children arriving between 9am-9.30am are recorded as “late.”  Lateness after 9.30am is recorded as an absent morning mark and will contribute to the overall attendance figure.

Leave of Absence: Only leave for exceptional reason can be considered. Any such request must be submitted in advance and the decision to grant the leave is the responsibility of your child’s head of school who may wish to speak with you. Please complete the request for leave of absence form which is available in each school office.


It is not our policy to authorise holidays in term time.  Where authorisation is not granted then subsequent term time holiday absence will be reported as a matter of course to Croydon’s Education Welfare Service; we have a duty to do this.  Where unauthorised leave is taken, the Trust will support the imposition of a fixed penalty fine.  This can be very expensive and applies to any parents who book holidays in term time.

Approved Public Performance

Where children are invited to perform in a licensed show or concert (e.g. orchestra, pantomime) parents are asked to consult with staff about how much time away from school is required.  Where possible such requests will be granted provided that the child’s education is unlikely to suffer.  The school will also be sympathetic towards leave to participate in a recognised city, county or national sporting event.  Where parents wish to take their child(ren) out of school during term time for purposes other than holidays, they should complete the request for leave of absence form which is available in each school office.

What is considered as poor attendance

Anything below 94% is of concern and if attendance falls below 90% we will have serious concerns.  Below 90% is regarded as persistent absence by the DFE.  In our Trust we aim for every pupil to achieve attendance levels of at least 95%.  We monitor attendance and identify all pupils whose attendance has fallen below 95% and may issue a letter or make telephone calls informing parents.  We then monitor the pupil’s attendance on a weekly basis and hope to see a pattern of unbroken weeks developing. The table below illustrates the effects of absence and missed learning.

Possible consequences

We have a duty of care, shared with the Local Authority, to challenge poor attendance.  Where attendance levels are low and where there are invalid reasons (judged by the Education Welfare Service, not the parent) for a pupil’s frequent absence or where parents condone absence (e.g. by taking children out of school on unauthorised holidays) then parents are themselves liable to a fine of £80 per pupil per parent.  This could mean a fine of £480 for two parents of three children.  This would be doubled to £960 if the fine were unpaid within 21 days and could ultimately lead to a criminal conviction.  Of course, no one wants this to happen but we need to be very clear about the issue.

We hope that these notes will help you to have a clear understanding about the Trust’s expectations in this matter, please refer to the Trust’s Attendance Policy for more information.  This can be found on our Trust website under ‘Key information – Policies & Forms.

If you are a parent who regularly walks to school and would consider occasionally helping other parents, please get in touch. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I would be very pleased to answer any questions you may have about our approach to maintaining and improving attendance and enabling children to attain at the highest possible levels.

Sonia Wesley

Attendance & Admissions Officer
Pegasus Academy Trust
Tel: 0208 683 5903 (Direct Line)


First published on 23rd September, 2022 and modified 23rd May, 2024

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