Whickham School offers an exceptional learning environment where pupils are happy and want to attend. Our attendance is among the highest both regionally and nationally. Attendance is one of the most important elements in what makes a successful pupil. We actively celebrate excellent attendance with termly prizes and annual certificates. Whickham pupils should be proud of their achievements and understand the significance attendance has on their further education and future employment choices. However the real prize is the impact it has on their GCSE results clearly illustrated below:
Chances of Success at GCSE
At Whickham school we expect our pupils to attend at least 98% of the time. This equates to no more than 4 days of absence across an academic year. Whilst we will always include cumulative attendance percentages on all correspondence with parents/carers, our strategy is based on the number of days of absence in relation to the maximum achievable attendance in an academic year. Our strategy to ensure attendance expectations are met fall into five stages:
Reporting an Absence
If your child is sick, you have a legal requirement to inform school on each day of absence. Please call the school’s absence line on 0191 496 0026 by 9am on every day of the absence to speak to a member of staff or leave a message clearly stating the reason for absence. Just reporting that your child as ‘poorly’ or ‘under the weather’ is not enough, please let us know the reason/condition that is preventing school attendance.
If you fail to inform the school, we are legally required to make contact with you or any other named contact. Prolonged periods of absence could result in the school contacting the police.
The following guide illustrates common illnesses and the anticipated impact they may have on your child’s attendance:
Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable. Punctuality is an essential life skill which transfers into adulthood. We expect our pupils to be in school on time, every day.
The first bell rings at 08:40 allowing 5 minute movement time before pupils should be at their classrooms and ready to take their seats at 08:45. It is expected that all pupils are inside the school gates before 08:40. Arriving late results in lost learning.
Pupils arriving late three or more times in a week will be required to stay for a 30 minute after school Detention on Friday evenings.
Please encourage your child to get a good night’s sleep and take responsibility for setting their own alarm.
Whickham is a busy area, so please factor in the traffic. It’s better to be early than late.
If punctuality continues to be a problem, we will contact you to make an appointment to discuss your child’s timekeeping. Persistent lateness can lead to unauthorised marks which will contribute to legal intervention.
Wherever possible, all non-emergency appointments should be made out of school hours. Where appointments are made during school hours, there is an expectation that your child attends school before and after the appointment to minimise lost learning. All appointments must be substantiated by evidence, without which we are unable to authorise the absence. Examples of accepted evidence include:
- Doctor’s notes,
- labels from prescribed medication obtained during the period of absence,
- appointment letters/cards
- referral letters.
Home visits can be made to check on the wellbeing of a pupil for one of the following reasons:
- No contact for the absence of a pupil
- School refusal
- Poor Attendance
- Long term illness support
- Safeguarding concerns
Home visits are part of our continued support of pupils and their families.
As a school we are required to follow legal processes and have statutory duties and expectations from the Local Authority. Legal proceedings can continue across academic years, so if attendance is poor and unauthorised at the end of the year, monitoring and referrals will continue into the new academic year in September.
We work very hard with our pupils and families to avoid legal proceedings and communication is the key to a successful relationship with school.
Leave of Absence
Please see our Leave of Absence Page for further information on how to request an authorised absence.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: My child is just having an ‘off day’ so I’m not sending him/her in’
A: Having sporadic days off school can quickly add up. We always want to encourage pupils to attend, sometimes getting out of bed, showering and putting on a uniform is all it takes to feel a little better. Coming to school on days when you don’t really feel like it can make a big difference. We will always send pupils home if they are genuinely unwell.
Q: My child was sick over the weekend, should I keep him/her at home?
A: We don’t have a fixed 48hr rule for diarrhoea & sickness. If your child has had an isolated incident and is feeling better, please send them to school.
Q: I have received an attendance letter and I do not like the tone.
A: We’re sorry you feel that way but we have to state facts and legal information to make things clear . Each correspondence forms part of a possible legal intervention and must leave no ambiguity.
Q: I can’t provide medical evidence because it’s impossible to get a GP appointment.
A: Wherever possible, we will request medical evidence. If your child is off for 4 consecutive days, we will expect a GP visit. If your child has had several shorter absences for the same condition, we will also expect a GP visit. Medical evidence makes the difference between authorised absence and unauthorised absence. We do not pursue legal intervention where medical evidence is provided. It’s as important for you as it is for us.
Q: I do not like being challenged regarding my child’s absences and reserve the right to make the decision as to whether my child is well enough to attend school.
A: We are sorry you feel that way but please bear in mind that our team are simply doing their jobs in complying with school rules and statutory guidance. It’s not personal and ultimately we can offer a multitude of support to help your child’s attendance improve and safeguard their future success. Remember, we care.
Q: Why do I have to tell you the details when my child is unwell?
A: Firstly, your conversation with us is confidential. We do not share details with the wider school community but will need to know exactly what’s wrong so that we can offer the right level of support and guidance. We care for every aspect of your child’s health and wellbeing from migraines to mental health. Good communication will help us to help you.
Q: Why do I need to call school every day when my child is absent?
A: Put simply, we have a duty of care and cannot assume that your child is at home. A daily call to us will give both school and home the confidence of knowing that your child is safe.
Q: I cannot take your calls or make meetings due to work commitments.
A: We will endeavour to work around your schedule in the interest of your child. Conversations and face to face meetings are important in building relationships. Family dynamics are unique and so are the interventions we can put in place to help your child to overcome barriers to attendance.
Q: My child is anxious and their attendance has dropped, but you want to meet me to discuss this matter. You know why they can’t attend, what is the point of this meeting?
A: Our meetings are intended to be supportive. We have a team mental health first aiders in school along with a dedicated counsellor. If you are seeking external help it’s important to send in your appointment letters and stay in touch.