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Attendance Matters

Thornhill Community Academy aims to maximise attendance rates in order to ensure that all students are able to take the fullest advantage of the learning experiences available to them and are prepared for the world of work and further study. Every child has a fundamental right to be educated and parents have a duty to ensure their child’s full attendance at school.   

It is well recognised that good, consistent attendance at school is crucial to a child’s future prospects.  Evidence shows that children with poor attendance are unlikely to succeed academically and they are more likely not to be in education, employment, or training (NEET) when they leave school. Research suggests that when attendance falls below 90% this can equate to a 1 grade reduction in their GCSE achievement. In addition, being absent from school can leave students vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and crime. 

At Thornhill Community Academy we strive for 100% attendance for all students.  We actively promote good attendance and discourage unjustified absences.  We recognise that by promoting good attendance and punctuality prepares students for adult working life.  We expect all students to arrive on time and achieve at least the school minimum target of 97% attendance over the school year.

Why is good attendance important?                                   
  • School work is easier to cope with                                      
  • Students feel more secure
  • Work is satisfying
  • Better results
  • Builds resilience
  • Better job prospects
  • References for jobs and further study
Rewards for good attendance
  • Prize draws every term for children with 100% and most improved attendance
  • Regular attendance promotions and rewards throughout the year
  • Children with good or improved attendance will be able to go on the end of year rewards trip
  • Year 11 good attendance gains them ‘prom points’ so they are able to attend the school prom
Attendance during COVID-19

In March when the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was increasing, we made clear no parent would be penalised or sanctioned for their child’s non-attendance at school.

Now the circumstances have changed and it is vital for all children to return to school to minimise as far as possible the longer-term impact of the pandemic on children’s education, wellbeing and wider development.

Missing out on more time in the classroom risks pupils falling further behind. Those with higher overall absence tend to achieve less well in both primary and secondary school. School attendance will therefore be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term. This means from that point, the usual rules on school attendance will apply, including:

  • parents’ duty to secure that their child attends regularly at school where the child is a registered pupil at school and they are of compulsory school age;
  • schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence
  • the availability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct

If any parent feels that there are exceptional circumstance as to why their child can’t attend school due to COVID-19, we ask that you contact the school to discuss.

Leave of Absence in Term Time

There is a very clear link between a child’s attendance record and their success in learning. There is a clear link between attendance and attainment. Research shows that the equivalent of 17 days absence from school can equate to achieving a grade lower at GCSE, meaning a 4 would become a 3.

90% attendance means one half day per week, 4 weeks per year, and half a year off over 5 years in high school. We are proud of the high standards we set for attendance and are keen to encourage all our students to achieve the best possible attendance records. 

Parents/carers do not have a legal right to take children out of school during term time. Each application is considered individually by the headteacher. Permission for a leave of absence during term time must be requested 4 weeks in advance of the required date. 


Parents/carers are responsible for ensuring that their child attends school and is punctual, in full uniform and with full equipment ready to learn.  If a child is prevented for any reason from attending, or is late, parents are requested to notify the school as soon as possible – by phone call on the day of absence (by
9.00 am) and in writing if longer than 1 day.  A student’s absence from school must be considered as unauthorised until a satisfactory explanation is forthcoming from the parent.  Parents will be informed promptly of any concerns that may arise over a child’s attendance.

Parents/carers should avoid, if at all possible, making medical/dental appointments for their child during school hours.  If parents intend to take their child out of school, please ensure a leave of absence form is filled in and returned to school.    Students are expected to attend school before and after any appointments during the school day.

Should you wish to discuss your child's attendance with us, please speak to the relevant Student Manager or get in touch with our Attendance Manager.

Penalty Notice

Penalty Notices may be issued:

  • If parents/carers have not sought permission from the headteacher before taking their child out of school for a leave of absence in term time
  • If the headteacher has refused the request but the absence occurs anyway
  • If the pupil has not returned to school by the agreed date with no satisfactory explanation


  • Where the leave of absence has been recorded by the school as unauthorised in the attendance register on at least 10 sessions (5 school days) during the current term

Where parents/carers continue to take unauthorised leave of absences in term time, despite having previously been issued with a Penalty Notice, the local authority will consider a prosecution under the S444 of the Education Act 1996. 

The penalty notice is £60, for each parent of each child, if paid within 21 days, and £120 if paid after this date but within 28 days. Non payment of a penalty notice will normally trigger a prosecution (under the provisions of section 444 of the Education Act 1996 or under the provisions of S103 (3) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006). The prosecution can only be for the original offence and NOT for the non-payment of the Penalty Notice. 

You also need to be aware that if your child fails to return to school following 20 days of absence he/she is at risk of losing their school place. 

If you still feel that you wish to apply to take your child out of school during term time due to exceptional circumstances, please download the form below. The form should be received by the headteacher 4 weeks in advance of the proposed date.

For further information please read our Attendance Policy by following the link below.

Attendance Policy & Procedure

Student Absence – Supportive Information for Parents

Please see our Student Absence - Supportive Information for Parents document here.