Welcome to Sam and Sammie teacher section

Introduction from Mrs Green

Dear teacher
As you know we have a very important role to play in ensuring that all children attend school regularly and punctually.
I like to welcome the children into the class and ensure they are ready to start learning every day. I take the register and if any children are returning to school after an absence, I give them a warm welcome back to school. The register is taken promptly so that Mrs Smith in the office can phone the parents of any child who hasn’t arrived.

I look for patterns of absence or lateness and ensure that parents who need support are aware of how we can help them.

I try to make my classroom a bright exciting place to learn so that the children want to come to school.
I know that teachers, Head Teachers and school support staff are always looking for new and innovative ways to improve attendance so we’ll be sharing some good practice on this website and updating it regularly. If you are involved in initiatives and good practice to improve attendance, please let us know so that we can add it to the website. You can do this by emailing samandsammie@doncaster.gov.uk If you would like resources to assist you in your role, have a look at our ‘shop’ page, there are lots of great resources

Mrs Green

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When a pupil arrives late to school, they miss out on essential instructions given at the beginning of the lesson/school day. This reduces their chances of academic success. Poor punctuality can also cause social disruption – children and young people may feel uncomfortable and embarrassed arriving to the classroom when everyone else is already settled. When a pupil arrives late it disrupts the teacher and the rest of the class, compromising
everyone’s learning.

Schools should actively discourage late arrival. Pupils arriving late after the register has closed must be marked as unauthorised absence. Persistent patterns of late arrival can provide
grounds for prosecution.

Schools should actively discourage late arrival. Pupils arriving late after the register has closed must be marked as unauthorised absence. Persistent patterns of late arrival can provide
grounds for prosecution

Recommended Practice

Ensure parents/carers and pupils know that punctuality is important for their child. All schools should publish information on:

The expected time of arrival for pupils
The fact that any arrival after the start time could be considered an unauthorised absence.

The process for admitting late pupils
The consequences of persistent lateness

Procedures for Admitting Late Pupils

Schools should follow a documented and consistent procedure. Points to consider include:

Recording the arrival pupil’s arrival time (either in the register or in a late book).
Having a system that prevents late-arriving pupils from being admitted to the classroom without having been marked late.

Operating a visible system for admitting late arriving pupils that actively discourages poor punctuality.

Schools are also advised to use positive encouragement to promote good punctuality (displays, competitions and rewards).

Marking the Register

Registers should be marked as follows:
L for late arrival before the close of registers (present).
U for late arrival after the close of registers (unauthorised absence).
Under normal circumstances, the registers should be kept open for 30 minutes after the school start time. In the event of mass public transport failure or very poor weather conditions, the school should use their discretion in keeping the registers open later.
Please ensure the staff group is aware of how to mark the registers correctly.

Responding to Patterns of Persistent Lateness

In cases of persistent lateness a penalty notice could be issued provided the following conditions are met:

A pupil is persistently late.
The school has sent a warning letter to a pupil’s parent/carer as they approach the threshold for persistent lateness, informing them of this and of the legal consequences of continued lateness.
There have been at least two incidents of lateness subsequent to the above letter being sent.
All arrival times need to have been recorded and must be made available to the Access and Engagement Officer and,
if needed, the courts.

Strategies to improve punctuality could include:

Parents’ Evenings: Teachers can discuss the importance of good punctuality. Schools can calculate the total number of pupil late arrivals for the previous academic year to display on a noticeboard and state the amount of learning time lost.

Interviewing Parents: Parents/carers of pupils who arrive late and who do not respond to usual school strategies could be invited into school to discuss the situation. The discussion could involve pastoral staff. Explain to parents/carers the difference between codes L and U (late before/after registers close) and the implication of a U code (unauthorised absence for the whole morning or afternoon session). The interview is a means to discuss the impact of persistent late arrival on the child’s education and on his peers and teachers. You can ask parents/carers to implement
the following strategies:

Bedtime routines – packing school bag ready for the next day, getting to bed earlier, setting a time for television, iPad, computer, mobile phone and other devices to be turned off.
Morning routines – setting the alarm earlier, no television until ready for school (and maybe not even then), having breakfast before leaving home, so no need to call in at the shop, meeting a reliable friend to walk to school with.
Coming to school for breakfast club if available.

Following Improvement:

Send a letter (or praise postcard) to parents/carers acknowledging any improvements in punctuality.
Reward pupils in assemblies with ‘most improved’ certificates and small prizes.

Late Patrols – Good Practice Guidelines:

School gate patrols (or ‘late gates’) can be a useful way of targeting punctuality issues within the school setting, in conjunction with other methods to support and improve whole school attendance and punctuality. However, they only have a real impact if they can be sustained. Schools that have been successful in improving their punctuality using late gates have found that doing one ‘every so often’ has limited, if any impact. The expectation should be that they are carried out every day.


To improve punctuality of pupils arriving for school each day.

To make pupils and parents/carers aware of the importance of good punctuality and the impact this has on learning and achievement.

To highlight issues of poor punctuality.

To target specific areas e.g. lateness on mornings when assembly takes place.

To work with pupils and parents/carers as appropriate to
improve punctuality.

To support school strategies to improve punctuality and attendance, including statutory action where attendance and/or punctuality and unauthorised lateness can be instigated.
– Sam and Sammie mascot event

Issues to Consider:

School gate patrols can be useful and the following issues
should be considered:

Who will undertake the gate patrol? The Attendance Lead, if involved, must be accompanied by either the Headteacher or a senior member of school staff, to demonstrate a joint approach and to ensure that those pupils who have genuine issues are not approached. All staff must wear ID badges.

Parents/carers should be told that school gate patrols are
about to happen.

Pupils arriving on time should be praised and stickers given (primary schools).

When will the gate patrol take place? – It is important to ensure that gate patrols are well planned, and that the times chosen will highlight the importance of good punctuality (e.g. from 10 minutes prior to the start of school to 20 minutes after the start of school).

Where will the gate patrol take place? – Where will staff stand to ensure that pupils are seen and can be spoken to easily? At the school gate, on the path leading into school, at the school door (dependent on number of entrances used), outside a particular targeted form room or key stage area?

How frequently will the gate patrol take place? – Maybe several occasions close together initially, and then further ad hoc occasions to remind pupils of the importance of punctuality.

Who will speak to pupils – will this be the role of the staff member or the Attendance Lead? Plan what will be said in advance, to ensure that messages are consistent and appropriate.

What follow up will be required? – Agree who will deal with any issues that require follow up, e.g. letters to parents/carers, punctuality awards for improvement in schools. It is good practice to follow up with an article in the school newsletter, or letter to parents/carers explaining the piece of work.

For more information on – see below

Learn about School Attendance

Find out how you can help your child achieve a good attendance

Good Attendance Poster

Printable poster to help teach children the importance of a good attendance

School Attendance Matters

Learn about your responisbilities and legal requirements on attendace

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