Attendance and Absences
Why is it important for my child to have good attendance?
Most parents want their children to be successful. Nowadays, it is more important than ever to have a good education behind you if you want opportunities in adult life.
Children only get one chance at school, and your child’s chances of a successful future will be affected by not attending school regularly.
If children do not attend school regularly, they may not be able to keep up with school work. In a busy school day it is difficult for schools to find the extra time to help a child catch up. Alongside school work, missing out on the social side of school life can affect children’s ability to make and keep friendships, a vital part of growing up.
Setting good attendance patterns from an early age will also help your child later on. Employers want to recruit people who are reliable so children who have a poor school attendance record may have less chance of getting a good job.
Being on time is also vital. Arriving late at school can be very disruptive for your child, the teacher, and the other children in the class.
What does the law say?
By law, all children of compulsory school age (between 5 and 16) must get a suitable, full-time education. As a parent, you are responsible for making sure this happens, either by registering your child at a school or by making other arrangements which provide a suitable full-time education.
Once your child is registered at a school you are responsible for making sure he or she attends regularly. If your child fails to attend regularly – even if they miss school without you knowing – the Local Authority (LA) may take legal action against you.
What about authorised absences?
Of course there may be times when your child has to miss school because she or he is ill. This is to be expected and for the odd day off sick you should follow the school’s procedures for notifying illness.
Children may also have to attend a medical or dental appointment in school time. However, you should try to make routine appointments such as dental check-ups during the school holidays or after school hours.
Any absence must be requested as far in advance as possible. Absences can only be authorised by the school. If you think you might need to take your child out of school, discuss the reasons with the school as soon as possible.
What about holidays in term time?
You should not expect your child’s school to agree to an absence for a holiday in term time. Taking a holiday during term time means that children miss important school time – both educationally and for other school activities. It will be difficult for them to catch up on work later on.
What happens if my child does not attend school regularly?
Your child’s school is responsible by law for reporting poor attendance to the LA. If your child is not attending school regularly, our Education Welfare Officer (Ms Vitalis) may contact or visit you. Ms Vitalis works with parents to address their child‘s attendance difficulties.
As a parent, you are committing an offence if you fail to make sure that your child attends school regularly, even if they are missing school without your knowledge. You run the risk of being issued with a penalty notice or being taken to court. If this happens, parents can be fined up to £2,500 or imprisoned for failing to ensure that their child attends school regularly. Magistrates can also impose a Parenting Order, which means that the parent has to attend a counselling and guidance programme, usually a parenting class.
A penalty notice of £60 PER PARENT may be issued (by the LA, school or police) as an alternative to prosecution. This rises to £120 PER PARENT if unpaid after 28 days. Failure to pay will normally lead to prosecution.
The LA may apply for an Education Supervision Order (ESO) instead of or as well as prosecuting parents. This would be heard in the Family Proceedings Court. An ESO is made in respect of a child and makes the LA responsible for advising, supporting and giving directions to a child and his or her parents in order to make sure that the child attends school regularly. There are sanctions against parents who fail to cooperate.
Let Your Child Know that Good Attendance Is Important:
- Attendance is a parent and student responsibility. Let your child know that you think attending school daily is important. Show them you are interested in their school activities and tell them that you want them to do well in school.
- Become involved in your child’s school life and school activities.
- Take an interest in your child’s school work. Check homework for accuracy and completeness.
- Read the school newsletter. Post the school calendar and notes on the refrigerator, or other prominent location to highlight school activities and important student information.
- Do not provide inappropriate excuses for your child to miss school. Do not let them take time off from school for minor ailments – particularly those which would not prevent you from going to work.
- Don’t expect or let older children stay home from school to babysit younger siblings.
- Set good examples and enforce rules. Speak well of the school and support school staff.
- Make a contract with your child to improve his/her attendance. Reward positive improvements.
Establish a Routine:
- Give yourself and child enough time to get ready.
- Encourage your child to set and use their own alarm
- Set the alarm 30 minutes earlier for students who need more time to get ready for school.
- Plan ahead the night before: pre-prep breakfast, make sure uniform is ready, pack schoolbags with completed homework and snacks/water.
- Set a regular bedtime schedule.
- Get proper rest and go to bed early.
- Encourage your child to bathe or shower in the evening.
- Provide regular study times and a quiet, clean area for doing homework.
- Have your child walk to school or the bus stop with another child who is always on time.
- Limit and balance extra-curricular activities.
Show Interest in Your Child’s Activities:
- Attend Parent’s Evenings
- Make education a family priority.
- Encourage your child to get more involved with their school. Encourage them to sign up for extra-curricular activities they like.
Keep open lines of communication with your children, the school and the EWO:
- Let the school know in advance if your child is going to be absent or if you have concerns about your child’s attendance or school performance.
- Report all absences on the day the student will miss school by calling the attendance office or line.
- Provide doctor’s notes when medical verification is available for student’s absences.
- If your child does not want to go to school, find out why and work with your school and child to address concerns. Let your child know he/she must attend school.
- If you notice your child is avoiding a particular class or is having a difficult time in one subject area, discuss this with your child and his/her Head of Learning. Offer extra support at home. This will prevent your child from developing a behaviour of avoidance in school when things become difficult.
- Get to know your children’s friends and their families and make connections with other families that value school attendance.
- Contact school for help if it is needed to support your child or family.
- Keep a school year calendar. This is an excellent way to track all of the important dates, holidays, and events at your child’s school. It is also a convenient place to document absences so you can keep track of how much time is missed
- Make sure your child knows you do not approve of him/her being late or absent. Talk to your child about issues that may be making them late for school.
- Help your child understand the law and school attendance policies.
- Do not let your child persuade you into making an excuse for him/her. Don’t give up. Reward good behaviour and take it one day at a time.
Advisory Centre for Education (ACE)
Independent, practical and legal advice on schooling issues.
0808 8005793 (2 - 5 pm weekdays)
Exclusions information: 0808 8000327
Website includes advice booklets that can be downloaded, includes information on bullying and special educational needs:
A free confidential helpline for children.
Tel: 0800 1111
A free 24-hour confidential helpline for parents.
Tel: 0808 800 2222
A free text phone for people with a speech or hearing impairment: 0800783 6783
Courses and workshops
Department for Education
Information on all aspects of school attendance including links to relevant legislation
Information and support for parents on
how to help with your child’s learning.
Altrincham College Attendance Course
Thoughout the year, Altrincham College runs very popular courses for parents on improving attendance. Contact the EWO, Ms Vitalis, for the next available dates and times.
Talk, Listen, Change
As a school we can refer you to a parenting course as one of the commissioned services in Trafford – please contact Ms Vitalis for more information.
As a school we can refer you to a coaching course as one of the commissioned services in Trafford – please contact Ms Vitalis for more information.