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Reporting a student absence

If students are not in school then they must have a justifiable reason and parents/carers should:

  • Telephone the school on 01900 873290, select the attendance option and leave a voicemail stating your child’s full name, tutor group, reason for absence (if this is an illness, please state the nature of the illness) and your name. You must telephone the school each day that your child is absent.
  • Email this information to attendance@sjchs.uk

If you do not let us know that your child is ill, their absence will be classed as unauthorised and you will receive a message from the school’s first day response system. This will be via the Arbor in app messaging service.

School should be advised of any medical condition that may prevent your child school attending school on a regular basis.


Student attendance

Outstanding attendance is everyone’s responsibility and is a crucial aspect of any child’s school career. Here at St Joseph’s Catholic High School, we are committed to maintaining high levels of attendance to ensure that students have the opportunity to achieve the very best outcomes.

We define regular attendance as attending school every day, arriving at school on time and attending every lesson. It is the parents’ legal responsibility to ensure their child attends school regularly. We expect our students to achieve at least 97% attendance. We understand that on occasion illness cannot be helped, however, we want every student, and parent/carer, to work with us in helping to achieve this target.

If your child’s attendance does fall below our target of 95% year, it’s likely we’ll include your child in an attendance monitoring and initiate attendance action plans in order to support improvements in their attendance. Students with persistent absence, attendance below 90% and/or clear patterns of absence that do not improve through school support will be referred to the Local Authority Education Welfare Service for further intervention. School will also conduct home visits to check on the child’s welfare.

Our school aims to maximise attendance rates in order to ensure that all students are able to take the fullest advantage of the learning experience available to them and are prepared for the world of work and further study.  We know that good attendance is directly linked to high achievement in Year 11.

The chart below should go some way to explaining the importance of good attendance.

Please contact school as soon as any attendance related issues arise, we are here to support you.

What is regular school attendance and why is important?

  • School work is easier to cope with.
  • Students feel more secure.
  • Learning is more fun when learning is not interrupted.
  • Students with excellent attendance have better outcomes.
  • Students with excellent attendance are resilient and have less anxiety.
  • Students with excellent attendance have access to more experiences, activities, achievements and build stronger friendships.


Leave of Absence in Term Time for Exceptional Circumstances

Changes to legislation in May 2022 make it clear that Head teachers may not grant leave of absence during term time unless there are ‘exceptional’ circumstances.  The changes also remove references to family holiday and extended leave.

Under the current legislation, the following absence requests will not meet the criteria for approval unless clear and specific ‘exceptional’ circumstances can be demonstrated:

  • Cheaper holidays in England and abroad
  • Family holidays due to convenience (because of parental work commitments)
  • Family trips (concerts, football matches, exhibitions, social events)
  • Birthdays
  • Looking after family
  • Visiting relatives

Some examples of ‘exceptional’ circumstances that would be considered:

  • Genuine illness
  • Medical appointments that cannot be made outside school time (we will need to see the appointment card/letter as per instructions above)
  • Funerals
  • Serious illness to a close family member
  • Religious observance days
  • Representation in national or county sporting teams

All requests will be considered individually, taking into account specific facts and circumstances and relevant back round context behind the request. If leave is granted, it is up to the headteacher to determine the length of the time the pupil can be away from school.


Local Authority

St Joseph’s Catholic High School works closely with the Local Authority to ensure that all young people of compulsory school age in Cumbria have access to, and are included in, education.  We liaise regularly with the Local Authority Inclusion Officer for Attendance in order to identify students who are vulnerable in terms of their attendance, and to support such students in improving their attendance.

10% or more unauthorised absence may lead to a court summons and fine issued by the Inclusion Officer for Attendance.  Parents may also be fined for taking their child on holiday.

The Local Authority and its Inclusion Officer also has an enforcing role in relation to school attendance. Any action taken, is always with the welfare of young people as the first and paramount consideration.

What does the law say about parental duty concerning children’s education?

  • Parents must make sure that their children receive efficient full-time education in school or elsewhere.
  • Once a child is registered at school, the parent must make sure that the child attends regularly.
  • Parents should inform the school of the reasons for any unavoidable absence on the first day.
  • Parents may request term time absence only in special or exceptional circumstances; this should be made in writing to the head teacher.

Parents can face legal and financial sanctions if their child fails to attend school

  • Fixed Penalty Notices to the amount of £120, this amount will reduce to £60 if paid within 21 days. Failure to pay within 28 days can result in prosecution.
  • An Education Supervision Order issued by the family court. Failure to comply will result in a fine of up to £2500
  • Prosecution in a Magistrates’ court which could result in imprisonment.
  • If all avenues of support have been facilitated by the school, local authorities and other partners, and the appropriate educational support or placement (e.g.am education, health and care plan) have been provided but severe absence for unauthorised absences continues, it is likely to constitute neglect and this will be subject to safeguarding issues.


Punctuality is an important part of self-discipline and is essential to good time management.  Students should arrive at school promptly at 8.43am.

If students arrive after 9am, then they must sign in via the Inventory screen that is located at reception


For Attendance issues please contact:


  • Mrs Eldon –Head of Year 7
  • Miss Morton – Head of Year 8
  • Mr Adams – Head of Year 9
  • Mr Fillingham – Head of Year 10 and Year 11
  • Mrs Cherie Jameson, Attendance Lead, 01900 873290
  • Mrs Julie Topping, Inclusion Officer for Attendance, Cumberland County Council, 01539 713441


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