Behaviour and attendance
Attendance at school
When children attend school consistently they are more likely to do well in their work but also build strong relationships and feel connected with the school community. It also demonstrates reliability which will help prepare children for life beyond education and looks positive to future employers.
By law, parents are responsible for ensuring all children of compulsory school age attend school or are educated at home. If your child misses school for at least 10% of the time they will be classed as persistently absent, which is treated seriously (unless there is a valid reason such as serious illness). You will be considered to be breaking the law and can be fined or even prosecuted.
Types of absence
Unauthorised absence — when children miss school without permission, for example a birthday treat, a day trip, over-sleeping, taking a long weekend or shopping.
Authorised absence — only the headteacher can authorise absences. You must apply for permission every time and they may also request further evidence to support the reasons. The school should inform you of their procedure.
If your child is too ill to attend, you should inform the school and give them an idea of when they will return. It’s important to stay in touch with the school about longer term illness so that they can work with you to minimise disruption to your child’s learning.
Supporting good attendance
If your child is anxious or worried about going to school, ask the school for help. Every child is entitled to additional support to help them engage with learning and there will sometimes be named staff who have a specific responsibility for this.
School refusal is often known as school phobia. For many children it’s a temporary state, but for some families it is more serious.
Talk to the school as soon as you are worried. Find out if your child has unexplained absences or lateness that you do not know about — sometimes children do not behave at home and school in the same way. See if the teachers have noticed changes in mood or behaviour. Perhaps something has happened at school or there could be something bubbling under the surface that you are not aware of.
Don’t jump to conclusions – you may think you know what the problem is but you need to talk to your child and the teacher. Try not to interrogate or blame and don’t rush into decisions. Work together with the school and once you have come up with a plan, stick to it for at least half a term. It’s important to have this consistency to increase your child’s sense of security and give them a routine. It also gives everyone the chance to evaluate the success of the strategy.
There is further information on the law surrounding school attendance in each of the regions.