You will know that by law you must make sure your child gets a full-time education between the school term after their 5th birthday and the last Friday in June in the school year they turn 16. I am well aware too, that our families at St. Mary's Cockerton value highly a good education and the opportunities this creates for our children’s futures. Regular attendance is vital to achieving this.

You can only allow your child to miss school if either:

they’re too ill to go in

In these circumstances we ask that you telephone the school office on the first morning of absence. If it is likely to be short term (1 or 2 days) this is all you need do. However if your child is likely to be absent for longer we ask that you keep in touch and let us know how they are doing and when you feel they are likely to be well enough to return. We do have to insist that children are kept at home for 48 hours after any bouts of sickness or diarrhoea just to prevent them passing on any bugs. If a child has not arrived for registration and we have not heard from you by 10.00am we will give you a quick phone call to check everything is OK.

you’ve got advance permission from the school

This school does not approve of parents/carers taking their child out of school during term time and will not set work for pupils whilst they are absent. There are 190 statutory school days a year; so there are 175 other days (weekends and school holidays) available for holidays which would not have a negative effect on a child’s education. By law, parents/carers must apply for permission in advance for leave of absence during term time. If you wish to apply to withdraw your child from school in term time, you must:-

  • Complete the ‘Request for absence form’ and return it to the school office (this form is available below or from the office)
  • Appreciate that each application will be dealt with separately and that this may include an appointment with the Headteacher to discuss the application

Please do not assume that your request will be granted, especially in cases where your child has a poor attendance record, there are concerns about their progress or at certain times of the school year (for example during statutory assessment periods and at the beginning of September when the children are settling into new classes). Authorisation can only be given in exceptional circumstances. If the request is not granted and your child is absent on those dates, this will be recorded as unauthorised absence. The law also sets out the procedures for issuing penalty notices (fines) to each parent who fails to ensure their child’s regular attendance at school. Referrals for penalty notices will only be made if a child has an unauthorised absence and their current attendance and progress is a concern. Please note that the school does not receive any of the money that Darlington Borough Council collects through Penalty Notices.

And finally - medical or dental appointments can often be arranged before or after school or in the holidays. This isn’t always possible however so please do let us know when the appointment is so we can have your child ready for you to collect or we know when to expect them back. There is no longer any need to show an appointment card.

If you have any queries about any of this information please do come and see me.

W. Aitken

Headteacher