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School attendance matters

Why is attendance important?

Missing days at school means missing out on…

  • Learning
  • Friendship
  • Achieving the best possible grades
  • Personal development
  • Opportunities

“You get the most out of your education if you attend regularly and learn more. You’ll get better grades, which will lead to better jobs and opportunities further on and a better lifestyle.” - Year 10 student at UTC

Attendance matters
2 absences per month x 9 months of school = more likely to fail English and maths

Every day counts… but what does that mean? 

Attendance percentages can be misleading. This is what they mean in terms of the number of school days missed, and the impact that can have:

100% attendance 0 days missed Excellent: Gives your child the best chance of success
95% attendance 9 days of absence Satisfactory
90% attendance 19 days (3 weeks and 4 days) of absence Poor: Less chance of success and makes it harder to progress
85% attendance 28 days (5 weeks and 3 days) of absence) Very concerning: This has serious implications on learning and progress
80% attendance 38 days (7 weeks and 3 days) of absence Extremely concerning: Half a term missed
75% attendance 47 days (9 weeks and 2 days) absence Extremely concerning: Almost one whole school term missed

If your child has 90 per cent attendance then that means they have the equivalent of:

  • Half a day off per week
  • 19 days off per year
  • 247 days off over their school career of 13 academic years, equivalent to over one year of lost education

When can my child miss school?

The Department for Education states that you can only allow your child to miss school if they are ill, or if you have advance permission from the headteacher.

Your child can be off school if:

  • They are ill. The NHS has useful guidance to help determine if your child is too ill for school or if they are well enough to go in.
  • They are attending a doctor or hospital appointment
  • They are going to a meeting about a Children's Hearing or court, or if they are going to a Children's Hearing, care review or court
  • If they are involved in an activity and the school agrees in advance.
  • Someone close to your child has died
  • There is a crisis or serious difficulty at home or in your family
  • They are going to a religious ceremony or a wedding of someone very close to them
  • You are a Gypsy/Traveller family and while you go travelling you keep in touch with your child's teacher
  • Your family is returning to a country of origin for cultural reasons or to care for a relative

What absences are not authorised?

Certain types of absence will be marked as unauthorised. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, agreed by the headteacher, time off for holidays is always unauthorised. There are 175 days a year available for holidays to be arranged outside term time.

Absences where the parents haven’t given the school a reason are also recorded as unauthorised. If your child is late to school and the registers have closed, they will be marked as an unauthorised absence, even if they turn up later in the day.

Find out more about authorised and unauthorised absences.

What happens if my child misses too much school?

If your child is persistently absent, you will be contacted by your child’s school. They will discuss your child’s attendance with you, and help you come up with a plan to make sure they get to school.

The emphasis should be on providing support to help you improve your child’s attendance.

If absences continue, you may be asked to sign a parenting contract: a voluntary written agreement stating that you will work with your school to improve your child’s attendance.

Ultimately, if your child continues to miss school, legal action can be taken. Consequences include a parenting order compelling you to do what the court says to improve your child’s attendance; a fine of £60, rising to £120 if you don’t pay within 21 days; and prosecution, which could lead to a community service order, a fine of up to £2,500, or a custodial sentence of up to 3 months.

What can you do to help?

  • Be aware of the impact of regular absences – missing school is missing out.
  • Take family holidays outside term time.
  • Try to arrange non-urgent dental and medical appointments outside school hours and if an appointment must be made within school hours, try to ensure your child is back at school as soon as possible.
  • Establish a good routine in the mornings and evenings so your child is prepared for the school day ahead; build-up good habits of punctuality and attendance.
  • Be involved with your child’s education and school – ask questions.
  • Inform the school if your child is absent due to illness or other reasons.

Most importantly – please discuss any problems or difficulties with the school: staff are there to help and will be supportive.

If you need further support, book a conversation with one of our Family Support Workers using the Early Help and SEND Advice Line.

Cost of living support

If the cost of living crisis is impacting your family, visit our cost of living hub to discover all of the support available. This includes financial advice, benefits checkers and where to go to get help with the cost of food, energy and bills.