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Education Welfare Service

A guide to Education Welfare Services for parents and carers. 

Is your child at school today? 

Many pupils go to school every day and enjoy it. Some children may experience difficulties in attending school for many reasons.

One of Cornwall Council's priorities, is to be a brilliant place to be a child and grow up. We recognise, and are committed to, ensuring that pupils:

  • Attend school regularly
  • Value belonging to their school community

Enabling them to make the most of the opportunities available to them.

If a pupil misses one day a week for their entire school career they would lose the equivalent of two school years. The time missed at school can lead to gaps in knowledge that become difficult to fill.

We follow the Department for Education guidance, Working together to improve school attendance. This guidance is likely to become law by September 2023. Some key areas of focus and emphasis on responsibilities for each group of stakeholders.

We will work with schools and Academy Trusts to ensure pupils are attending regularly. Where this is not the case, we will help develop support to enable the pupil to thrive.

We can also offer support and help to pupils, parents (or carers) and schools who may be having issues with attendance. However it is vital that you have raised any queries and concerns with your child’s school in the first instance. This ensures the school have time to consider and work with parents and pupils to remove barriers to school attendance.

Remember, if your child is not in school...

  • they may be putting themselves or others at risk and
  • they are missing out on educational opportunities

What can you do to help?

  • Make sure that your child arrives at school on time.
  • Be aware of the school’s rules and routines.
  • If your child is ill contact the school on the first day they are ill. When the pupil returns to school send an explanatory note of absence.
  • Avoid taking your child out of school during term time (exceptional circumstances only)

If you intend to take them out of school during term time, ask the school’s permission in advance explaining the reason of the exceptional absence. This may include:

  • a holiday in term time
  • a day of religious observance or bereavement

Unacceptable reasons for absence:

  • shopping
  • birthday treats and trips
  • non-urgent medical and dental appointments

Above all, show interest in your child’s school work and maintain contact with your child’s school.

If your child has problems with attending school, talk to the school. Every school have the duty to have an allocated Attendance lead, who you can ask to talk to.

(see the guidance documents to help you before talking to the school)

Holidays in term time

Holidays should not be taken during term time. Holiday request forms are available from your child’s school office for those who wish to take unavoidable holidays during term time.

Holidays may be taken at the headteacher’s discretion if they deem the reason for the holiday to be ‘exceptional circumstances’.  If your child’s attendance is poor, it is unlikely that the school will grant permission for a holiday. Some schools do not allow term time holidays.

How the Education Welfare Service can help

Each school will have an Education Welfare Officer (EWO) who will meet with the school to provide information, advice and guidance.

The new guidance makes it important to work together, outlining clear responsibilities for all.

If you have concerns about your child’s attendance, please contact the school and ask to meet to work together . The school should be able to discuss and offer some adjustments, in the short term, that will help your child attend regularly. This could be in the form of changes within the school day to accessing external agencies and services that can offer support.

If you have seen no improvement following your contact with the school and would like to discuss the matter, the EWO can provide help and advice on:

  • school attendance issues
  • exclusions
  • child protection procedures
  • advice and information about other agencies

Please check with your child’s school to see if there is an EWO available.

What the law says

The Education Act makes it clear that parents must ensure that their child of school age receives regular, full-time education. For most parents this is in school. Children must attend the school they are registered in. Only the school can authorise a child’s absence. If a child is not registered, or does not attend, Cornwall Council may take legal action against the parent/carer, if appropriate.

Exclusion from school

In most cases exclusion from school will be the last resort after a range of measures have been tried to improve the pupil’s behaviour. These notes are designed to help you during a difficult time for you, your child and your child’s school.

Different kinds of exclusions

There are two sorts of exclusions:

  • Suspensions (formally known as Fixed term exclusions). A pupil may be suspended for any period up to 45 days in any school year. A date is given for the pupil’s return to the same school.
  • Permanent exclusions. It is not intended that the pupil will return to the same school.

How you are told your child has been excluded

The school must tell you about the exclusion as soon as possible. You will receive a letter telling you:

  • the reasons for the exclusion
  • whether the exclusion is fixed term or permanent
  • the arrangements for continuing your child’s education. During the first five days of any exclusion you are responsible for your child’s education. If the exclusion is six days or longer, and fixed term, then the school needs to make arrangements to provide education from day six onwards. If the exclusion is permanent then the Local Authority will arrange education from day six. This does not affect your right of appeal against exclusion
  • that you have the right to appeal to the governing body’s discipline committee
  • who to contact if you wish to appeal and the latest date for doing so;
  • if the exclusion is fixed term, the date of return to school
  • that you have the right to see your child’s school record

Parental responsibilities during exclusions

During the first five days of any period of exclusion the parent is regarded as responsible for their child’s education. The parent must therefore ensure that their child is not found in a public place in school hours during this first five days. If the child is found to be in a public place without reasonable justification then a penalty notice may be issued by the Local Authority.

Where to get advice

You can contact one of the Education Support Leads, based within the Education Welfare Service. You can contact them on 01872 323400.

How many times a child can be excluded

The law allows a head teacher to exclude a pupil for up to 45 days in an academic year. When an exclusion causes a pupil to miss more than five days in a term, the head teacher must inform the parents, the Local Authority and the Governors.

What happens if your child is permanently excluded

If your child is permanently excluded the head teacher must contact the local authority to make them aware of this. An Education Support Lead will then contact you to see whether you wish to appeal against the head teacher’s decision at an appeals hearing. If the permanent exclusion has been agreed, you and your child will be supported to access an educational provider.

Appealing against an exclusion

You have the right to ‘state a case’ to the Governing Body’s Discipline Committee. If you wish to make a statement, you should tell the clerk to the committee within 6 days of receiving the letter of exclusion. The Governing Body’s Discipline Committee will arrange a meeting to consider your statement. You and your child have a right to attend the meeting and may be accompanied by a friend or legal representative. You may also make your statement to the committee in writing.

Powers of the Governing Body’s Discipline Committee

The Governor's can either agree with the head teacher’s decision to exclude, or they can direct the pupil be reinstated.

Disagreement with the Governing Body’s decision

If your child has been permanently excluded, and you disagree with the Governor's decision, you can appeal to an Independent Panel.  You must do this in writing within 15 days of the Governing Body’s Discipline Committee’s decision and you should explain the grounds for appeal.  You can ask for a Special Educational Needs expert to be present on the panel if you feel this would be appropriate.  The Independent Exclusions Review Panel can:

  • uphold the exclusion decision, or
  • recommend that the Governing Body reconsiders their decision; or
  • quash the decision and direct that the Governing Body considers the exclusion again

Is there anything else I can do?

If you believe the Independent Appeals Panel has not treated you fairly, you can make a complaint to the Ombudsman. If you think the Panel acted unfairly you may ask for a judicial review. The Secretary of State has no power to intervene.

Sending your child to a different school

You have the right at any time to look for a place for your child at a different school. If there are no places in your preferred school, you can appeal to an Independent Admissions Panel. Please be aware that if you choose to move your child to a different school then you may be responsible for the transport costs. Our School Admissions team, can discuss other schools in your area. They can also discuss whether you can get transport should you choose to move schools.

Education provision following a permanent exclusion

The Council will arrange education through an alternative education provision from the 6th day of the exclusion. The staff at that provision will help find a place in another school for your child, or discuss an individual programme of study. 

Guidance documents

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