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Funding and absence


starsdance
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We have a child who attends two mornings a week but is only funded for one. His attendance is very patchy and in the 6 weeks we have been open he has only attended for 2 full weeks (4 days). The remaining weeks have been patchy with at least one day attended but the absences has been noted as ill, sister ill, visitors, he doesn't want to come in. The days he has attended he has been late ranging from 9.15 to 10.30 with us having to phone to find out if he is coming in.

 

I know for funding purposes I need to keep a record of all of this (I do) but do I need to tell the LA we are having problems with his attendance. I am worried if they come and do an audit and decide to withdraw funding we will have to pay it back.

 

I know I have to talk to mum which can be difficult when she is late (if it's a day we do Forest School we go without him and mum brings him round) and she has now started collecting early as she does lunch duty.

 

How do I word it that we are not 'just pre school' and it matters if he turns up.

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You absolutely have to inform LA and also your safeguarding team. Frequent absences with 'flaky' explanations are both recordable for your own records and reportable as they may be indicators of other issues. Such absences will be noted during any inspection and your response to them will be discussed with the inspector.

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so unusually I might have to disagree a bit here! our lea would not be interested in this! also although I record absences and reasons and would also look out for safeguarding concerns as a pre-school children do not have to attend and therefore our children's social care are not interested in this information so i'm not sure who you would report it to....!

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Ofsted would ask how you were monitoring and managing these absences. Inspection handbook, p40/41 point 159 (records) and point 160 'wider patterns of attendance ... Safeguarding concerns' as a provider there is an expectation that such absences are followed up according to safeguarding procedures.

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yes I am aware of this but our lea do not need info on attendance and social care thresholds do not take this information in to account so interestingly i'm not sure what would happen in this circumstance. We have had this in the past, also i'm not sure what you would do if parents are keeping in touch and complying with your rules! Just from a practical point of view how could you manage this??

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Hmm........... I with finleysmaid on this one.

 

I was at training this week and this subject was raised. The answer came from an Ofsted inspector and she said you need to follow your own policies on absenteeism as pre-school attendance is not mandatory. She did emphasise the importance of having a clear policy tailored to you own setting and that policy needs to be followed to the line though.

 

Just remembered! She did say she would be looking how we work in partnership with parents to try and improve attendance - for example signposting them to the relevant agencies (children's centre,HV etc) if we think they need extra help/support.

 

Obviously if you have any safeguarding concerns you need to follow the correct procedure without fail.

 

I also guess this also depends on your LA funding conditions too. We send in our headcount hours at the beginning of term and that's it - I'm pretty sure I've read on here that some areas have to send actual attended hours and payments are adjusted ?

Edited by louby loo
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Maybe it depends on your LA as to whether they claw back money, as you say there is no requirement for children to attend pre-school, but isn't it different if they are claiming funding? I think some LAs would take a dim view of this if it was picked up in an audit (that saying, they don't have the staffing levels any more to carry out audits on all previous). However, the safeguarding issue remains under question - some inspectors do look very closely at ongoing absences and expect to see them followed up with parents and if they do not improve followed up with the LA. My guess would be that it would be a factor when looking at wider safeguarding policies and procedures. I think if it was me, I would be going 'belt and braces' with ongoing absences - clear recording, clear follow ups with parents, reporting to LA - if the LA choose not to be interested then at least I've done my bit - it's only a phone call or email.

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We are audited every three years for our funding. My LA doesn't ask for any repayment if children don't attend - thank goodness. I think it would be hugely unfair to penalise settings by asking for money back for regular or frequent absences We do have procedures for following up unexplained absence and would talk to parents if children aren't attending regularly, but at the end of the day it is their choice to attend.

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Hi

Same as finleysmaid. I let my LEA know that the attendance was poor so that they were aware and they were ok and just made a note that I had reported it to them should I be audited. No funding needed to be returned.

Like everyone else we keep records of all absences, reasons and just encourage good attendance as it is not mandatory. If I had another reason to be concerned about a child then the attendance pattern would be useful, however if it was just attendance I would not report it to our safeguarding hub as they would not be interested. I believe that recording the reasons, plus any notes of discussions with parents is what OFSTED would be looking for.

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I think settings are a soft target as far as LEA's are concerned if they are trying to claw back money. It is not our fault that children do not attend - we can talk, support and signpost all we like to parents, but it is they who have the last say in this and it is they who the LEAs should be chasing for any repayment. Afterall, if the parent were paying us directly from their own pockets, they would have to pay regardless of attendance as they are paying for a place at the pre-school and one which we cannot sell to anyone else.

 

The safeguarding aspect is totally different from this and should be kept that way.

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I don't have any safeguarding worries it's just annoying that he only comes twice a week to us and then I get moaned at by mum that he has had no tapestry obs. If he came he would have more.....

 

i do keep a clear record on the register as to whether I have had to phone her or she has phoned me and the excuse for this week. I know she is not happy with the school her older one is at so her attendance is pretty patchy as well and it's obviously easier to keep them both at home. I would prefer her, I think, to phone me and say he is ill rather than a different excuse each time as at least with illness you don't really question it.

 

I will carry on as I am and have a little chat with her about his attendance to see if we can make it better but just be resigned to the fact that he will only come when she wants him to.

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Hi starsdance, I was just wondering why the child is only funded for one session? Are they picking up more hours elsewhere?

I think I would be concerned about this family given that there is a sibling at school that also has poor attendance. Has the parent told you this or do you have a link with the school? Given relatively 'flaky' reasons for such absences I would have alarm bells. Perhaps mum needs a bit of support with boundaries, or there's another reason, but I would want to follow it up. If the sibling is of statutory school age, the school will have to follow up, so is a conversation with school or health visitor possible?

Does your LA issue any advice re frequent absences?

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I know she is not happy with the school her older one is at so her attendance is pretty patchy as well and it's obviously easier to keep them both at home.

I think I too would be having a word with the school to ensure there are no other issues!

Call me contrary but I didn't know this when you first posted! Poor attendance at school tends to be more significant because they are then flouting the law ....once education welfare gets involved then you may need to be more active in ensuring attendance!!!

 

Ho HUmmm :wacko: :unsure: :blink:

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He comes to me for two 3 hour sessions but is only funded for one as she picks up 12 hours somewhere else as she needs two long days for work and I can't offer that. I must phone them to see if he does actually go when he is supposed to.

 

I am at the school this week so can ask about the siblings attendance and ask what they are doing about it. I will also phone the LA in the morning and ask for advice.

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Progress of sorts. I have spoken to the other setting he 'attends' to find out that his attendance this year has been as good as mine.... If he does go he is late, just like us. I also spoke to the school regarding the sister to find out that she is not in today (neither is he) and to be told that since she has started they haven't had a full weeks attendance yet. I asked about the EWO but as she was only reception last year there was nothing they could do. I asked if they would contact them this year but they have said when they have contacted them they have found them to be less than helpful.

 

So, I phoned First Response for advice to be told that as it is not statutory to attend pre-school there isn't a lot they can do. They have advised that I speak to mum to find out if we can help in any way to make his attendance better! They have also advised to speak to the LA regarding funding which I have done and who want me to email details through to them. This will also give me a reason to speak to mum as if his funding is in jeopardy he might attend more. I asked what happens if she then takes him away and they have said to get back in touch with them.

 

Wish me luck as I probably won't be seeing her till Friday (when she will be late and pick up early) so it will be after half term before I can speak to her.

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Not read through all the comments so this may have been mentioned..

 

Attendance is not compulsory for pre-school children but there may be 2 or more reasons for recording attendance.

 

1) Funding - Even though I do not agree, the amount of hours a child uses their funding throughout the year.. I have heard some settings lose money due to this.. even though the places are kept open and available, so in my opinion it is wrong.

 

2) Prevent Duty - Children may be away from your setting for weeks or months at a time because they are on holiday, and whilst on holiday they could become radicalized.. for example.

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  • 6 months later...

I too have a funded child with terrible attendance. It has always been a bit hit and miss but she has attended three times in the last three weeks. I was actually looking through the forums for a form of words to put in a letter. I recall reading in the past that someone wrote to pupils to remind them that funding might be in jeopardy if attendance was poor. Similarly to your case Starsdance the sibling at school also has bad attendance. There is always an excuse of illness or waiting in for the plumber / gasman / builder etc. I don't have any Prevent concerns or safeguarding concerns, although you could of course argue that failing to bring your child to preschool is neglect.

 

Does anyone have a letter they are prepared to share? Or could someone point me in the right direction?

 

Thanks

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Could you quote something directly from your LA agreement / guidance etc. Our says something along the lines that funding will be paid for actual attendance - approval has to be gained from Finance for long term absences.

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I too have a funded child with terrible attendance. It has always been a bit hit and miss but she has attended three times in the last three weeks. I was actually looking through the forums for a form of words to put in a letter. I recall reading in the past that someone wrote to pupils to remind them that funding might be in jeopardy if attendance was poor. Similarly to your case Starsdance the sibling at school also has bad attendance. There is always an excuse of illness or waiting in for the plumber / gasman / builder etc. I don't have any Prevent concerns or safeguarding concerns, although you could of course argue that failing to bring your child to preschool is neglect.

 

Does anyone have a letter they are prepared to share? Or could someone point me in the right direction?

 

Thanks

talk to the school...they have the ability and the facilities to help. the education welfare officers may be involved already. The question is WHY is this happening...are the children caring for their parent? is there a mental health difficulty etc etc it is more than likely that this family need intervention from another agency (early help in this area!) ...speak to the head and see what they say ;)

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