The future for young people is changing rapidly. Non-attendance at school, even for short periods of time, may jeopardise their opportunities by limiting their educational experience.

While parents have a legal responsibility to ensure that their child attends school regularly, or receives an approved education at home, Gairloch High School staff recognise that we have a fundamental role to play in ensuring good patterns of attendance which will enable every pupil to fulfil their potential in society.

Gairloch High School promotes a positive environment by:

  1. providing access to sports facilities, the library, social areas and common room during break times.
  2. encouraging pupils to initiate and become involved in lunch-time and after-school activities.
  3. ensuring a high quality of personal, social and health education to facilitate the understanding of personal relationships.
  4. offering pupils, particularly seniors, responsibilities and privileges in keeping with their developing roles as young adults.
  5. recognising that relationships are key to positive working across the school.

Gairloch High School uses Learning Support Staff to support pupils with learning needs both in class and at other times.  This has proved very effective in improving pupil motivation, as has the provision of tasks appropriate to the pupils’ needs.  Differentiation of the curriculum is a key factor in their motivation and progress.

We attempt to enhance motivation and attendance through a wide range of strategies.  Conscious of the importance of the physical environment to the health and well-being of staff and pupils, we work hard to maintain our modern school.

Monitoring Attendance
Morning registration by First Line Guidance  (Registration) Teachers is quickly recorded and made available electronically, to all staff for checking throughout the rest of the day. Computers record all attendance/absence information.  This is stored in such a way as to provide, when necessary, analysed data.  If it is not possible to inform the school prior to an absence we ask that on the day of any absence parents inform the school before 10am.  Thereafter for pupils in S1-4 we will attempt to contact you to confirm that your child is safe at home with you and has not set out for school.  With the exception of S6 students, who complete their own absence slips, parents are required to inform in writing the reason for their child’s absence.  These are made available to the appropriate Pupil Support teacher for information and keeping.  Note that pupils in receipt of Educational Maintenance Allowances lose payment on days that they do not attend.

Where there is a concern, either about the legitimacy of the absence or the authenticity of the explanation, then Guidance contacts the parent as quickly as possible by letter or telephone.  Monitoring and follow-up of absence, no matter how long-term, is the responsibility of the appropriate Pupil Support teacher.

Lateness is also monitored effectively by signing the “Latecomers” book and, after three “lates”, parents are likely to be contacted by pupil Support staff.

Recognising that attendance is a matter of joint concern for schools and the vast majority of parents, Gairloch High School staff endeavours to maintain and strengthen links with families. Pupil Support and the Senior Management Team operates an “open-door ” system to parents as well as pupils and try to create a welcoming atmosphere throughout the day as well as at Parents’ Evenings.

Categorising School absence as authorised or unauthorised

Parents’ responsibilities
Parents and guardians are required to ensure that children of compulsory schooling age receive full-time education.  This means that they are responsible for ensuring that children attend and stay at school unless alternative arrangements are made for their education.  They are also responsible for informing schools of any absence as soon as possible.  They should state the nature of the illness and when the child is expected to return to school.  Gairloch High School ensures that parents are reminded of their statutory duties and also of the schools’ requirements as regards notification of absence.

Because post-registration truancy is not a usual problem at Gairloch High School, an attendance record is taken at the beginning of each morning, followed by a collated Absence Slip available to staff before 10 am.

Categorising absence
Parents can be prosecuted for failing to ensure their child’s attendance at school, with the following exceptions:

  • the pupil was absent with permission from an authorised person within the school (the Headteacher)
  • the pupil was ill or prevented from attending by an unavoidable cause
  • the absence occurred on a day exclusively set aside for religious observance by the religious group to which the family belongs
  • the school is not within walking distance of the home and no suitable arrangements have been made for transport to school

Notes from parents
A note of explanation must accompany all absences.  This should be confirmed in writing from the parent/guardian to the appropriate Register teacher.  Only the School can approve absence.  The School does not have to accept the parents’ offered explanation as a valid reason for absence.  If there are doubts about the explanation offered, or where there is no explanation, the absence must be treated as unauthorised.

Illness, medical and dental appointments
Such absences are considered authorised providing that the School is satisfied that the request is genuine.

In order to discourage lateness, any pupil missing registration must sign the Latecomers Book at the office with the reason for being late. Three “lates” warrants a letter home from Pupil Support.

Minding the house, or looking after brothers and sisters
This is an area where schools have discretion, granting authorisation only in exceptional cases.

It is highly unlikely that such absence can ever be justified

Special occasions
It is for the Headteacher to determine whether an absence in this category should be authorised or not.  It will clearly depend on the circumstances.

Family bereavements
The Headteacher will respond sensitively to requests for leave of absence to attend funerals or associated events.

Family holidays and extended trips overseas

The Headteacher has no power to grant leave to parents for the purpose of an annual family holiday or a holiday during term time.  The School must be given prior notice in writing in such circumstances and a standard form can be obtained from Pupil Support for this purpose.  Please note that such absences will be recorded as “Unauthorised” following Scottish Government Guidelines.

Where a child attends a job interview or application for a place at college or university the Headteacher has discretion to authorise the absence. Schools should expect, and ask for, advance notification.

School leaving date
Pupils are required to remain at school until the relevant leaving date.  Any absence not agreed in advance must be treated as unauthorised.

Returning ‘Leavers’
Pupils beyond the statutory leaving age are required to abide by the school’s policy on attendance.  This includes the period between the end of national exams and the session itself.  Parents do not have the right to take their child away from school for that period if it is their intention to return after the summer break.  Similarly, schools do not have the right to sanction this.  If such a pupil is adamant about absenting himself/herself during this period then he/she will be deemed to have left school and taken off the register.  He/she will then be required to re-apply in August, possibly as an adult returner with an appropriate timetable.