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School attendance and absence

It is important your child attends school to get a good education. By law, as a parent or carer, you must make sure that if your child is aged five to 16 (compulsory school age), he or she receives a suitable full time education.  This means that your child should not have sessions of unauthorised absence. During term times, your child should attend school regularly unless he or she is ill or the school has authorised their absence. If your child is too ill to go to school, you must let the school know.

Why is attendance important?

School ensures that children have the best start in life and that they are equipped for succeeding both academically and socially so that they can achieve in their exams and manage relationships. Children who miss school are more likely to become victims or perpetrators of crime. The more school children miss the harder it is to catch up. Statistics show that 90% of persistent absentees  (those with attendance below 90%) fail to achieve 5 or more good GCSE grades or equivalent. Poor examination results limit young people’s options. Good school outcomes are the passport into higher education and better jobs.

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What can parents do to ensure good attendance at school

Create good routines for mornings at home so that your child can arrive punctually and ensure they are properly equipped with the right uniform, PE kit, school bag, pencil case, books etc.

  • Read all school communications
  • Attend parents' evenings and academic tutoring sessions.
  • Encourage and show interest; discuss their day with them.
  • Check your child understands their homework and that it has been completed.
  • Contact the school if your child is worried about something, causing reluctance to go to school.
  • Set realistic boundaries and sanctions
  • Know the name of your child's class or form teacher and head of year/house (secondary school).
  • Let the school know the reason(s) for any absence and a likely return date, on the first day of the absence and update the school daily.
  • Make medical/dental appointments out of school time, whenever possible.
  • Do not take holidays during term time.

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Absences from school

Absence due to illness

If your child is sick or absent for unforeseen reasons you must notify the school on the first day of the absence. The school’s headteacher will decide whether or not to authorise the absence, depending upon the reason given. You should also let the school know about your child's treatment for any illness and any special care needed.

If your child is absent frequently because of illness, the school may ask for medical guidance to make sure the right support is given. If prescribed medicines need to be taken during school hours, you should discuss this with the headteacher or the person at the school responsible for children with medical needs.

If your child is unwell at school, the school will contact you as the parent or guardian to make suitable collection and care arrangements.

Authorised and unauthorised absences

Only your child's school can authorise an absence from school. If you plan to take your child out of school during term time, the absence can only be authorised if it is considered that there are exceptional circumstance. It is for the Headteacher and the school governors to decide whether they consider the reasons  given amount to exceptional circumstances.

There are laws that cover employment of children under school leaving age. If your child is absent from school due to working in the entertainment industry our guidance on children and young people in employment or entertainment explains your responsibilities.

If your child is absent without good reason, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised on the school register.
If you do not ask for or get permission to take your child out of school and do so regardless, your child's absence will be recorded as unauthorised. 

Taking holidays in term time

From 1 September 2013, a change to government legislation means that schools are no longer allowed to authorise requests for children to be taken out of school for a holiday during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. These circumstances will be determined by your child's headteacher, including the number of school days your child can be away from school if leave is granted. You must allow enough time for the headteacher to consider your request before leave is taken. It is possible that the headteacher may refuse permission. Parents can be given a penalty notice or prosecuted for periods of unauthorised holidays.

Being late for school

It is important your child arrives to school on time. If they are late and miss the register, it may be recorded as an unauthorised absence.

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