Attendance and punctuality
Every school, by law, has to register pupils twice a day; first thing in the morning at the start of the school day, and again in the afternoon session. If a pupil fails to attend or arrives late they can be marked as an absence for that session.
If a pupil of compulsory school age is absent, the register must show whether the absence was authorised (acceptable) or unauthorised (where no acceptable reason is given for absence). Only the school can approve the reason for absence.
Unauthorised absence or being frequently late, could result in fine or prosecution.
Authorised absence from school
Where a pupil is absent due to sickness and is genuinely unable to attend school, then the school, after being informed, may authorise a child’s absence.
It is important to keep the school informed if your child is going to be absent at the start of the day.
In law, only a headteacher can authorise a pupil’s absence, and may require additional evidence such as a letter from your GP.
Unauthorised absence (truancy)
The law states that parent/carer(s) must ensure that their child regularly attends the school where they are registered. Should your child fail to attend school regularly legal action may be taken against you.
Once a child is registered in school, attendance is compulsory until the last Friday in June of the academic year in which the child turns 16 (Year 11). It is a parent’s legal responsibility to ensure that their child, when of statutory school age, accesses education appropriate to age, needs and ability.
Under the terms of the education related provisions of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, parent/carer(s) may be issued with a Penalty Notice of £60 if:
Schools and Local Authorities have legal powers to take action via the courts for persistent non-attenders.
Under Section 444(1) of the Education Act of 1996, parent/carer(s) can be prosecuted for failure to ensure regular school attendance via the Magistrate Court. The penalty for an offence under this act can be a fine up to £1,000.
There is a more serious offence under Section 444(1a) (in circumstances where the parent knows that his/her child is failing to attend school regularly and fails without reasonable justification to cause him/her to do so) for which there is a maximum fine of £2,500, a term of imprisonment of up to 3 months, or both. A warrant could be issued requesting the defendant to attend court for sentencing.
We can also take action via the Family Proceedings Court under Section 36 of the Children Act 1989 and apply for an Education Supervision Order, making the LA (local authority) responsible for the education of the child. This action is taken to support parents.
We can serve School Attendance Orders under sections 437-443 of the Education Act 1996 in respect of pupils who are not registered at any school or registered to be receiving education rather than at school.
If you are concerned about your child’s attendance you should initially speak to staff at your child’s school. Support may also be available from your Early Intervention Hub (Single Point Access-SPA).
The school day starts at:
Unauthorised absence or your child being frequently late could result in fine or prosecution.
If a pupil arrives after registration has closed the absence will be recorded as unauthorised for that session. If this persists, legal action, in the form of a Penalty Notice or Prosecution under Section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996, may follow.
Minutes late per day
Equivalent of missing
3.4 school days a year
6.9 school days a year
10.3 school days a year
13.8 school days a year
20.7 school days a year
Family holidays and extended leave during term time
Amendments to the registration regulations remove references to family holidays and extended leave, as well as the threshold of ten school days. The amendments make it clear that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances, which came into force on 1 September 2013.
Should a school not agree to grant leave and parents take their child on holiday regardless, then this will be counted as unauthorised absence (truancy). The school and our Attendance and Engagement Officer may consider issuing a Penalty Fine of £60 for this period of unauthorised absence.
Absence Due to Sickness
Contacting the school
Please inform the school before 9.30am on every day your child is absent from school due to illness.
Occasionally pupils are too unwell to attend school. We will monitor and engage with parents as soon as a pattern of absence becomes apparent.
When deciding whether or not your child is too ill to attend school, ask yourself:
Most illnesses can be classified as one of a few minor health conditions. Whether or not you send your child to school will depend on how severe you judge the illness to be. This guidance can help you to make that judgement. If you’re concerned about your child’s health, consult a health professional.
Please see our updated guidance on COVID-19 symptoms and attendance under the ‘Key Information’ tab.
Cough and cold
A child with a minor cough or cold may attend school. If the cold is accompanied by raised temperature, shivers or drowsiness, the child should stay off school, visit the GP and return to school 24 hours after they’re feeling better. If your child has a more severe and long-lasting cough, consult your GP, who can provide guidance on whether the child should stay off school.
If your child has a raised temperature, they shouldn’t attend school. They can return 24 hours after they’re feeling better.
Rashes can be the first sign of many infectious illnesses such as chickenpox and measles. Children with these conditions shouldn’t attend school. If your child has a rash, check with your GP or practice nurse before sending them to school.
A child with a minor headache doesn’t usually need to be kept off school. If the headache is more severe or is accompanied by other symptoms such as raised temperature or drowsiness, then keep the child off school and consult your GP.
Vomiting and diarrhoea
Children with these conditions should be kept off school. They can return 48 hours after their symptoms disappear. Most cases of vomiting or diarrhoea get better without treatment, but if symptoms persist, consult your GP.
A sore throat alone doesn’t have to keep a child from school. If it’s accompanied by a raised temperature, the child should stay at home.
Informing the school
By law, only the headteacher can authorise your child’s absence. It is important to keep the school informed if your child is going to be absent as soon as possible at the start of the day. Telephone the school to tell them that your child will be staying at home. The school will ask about the nature of the illness and the expected duration of absence from school.
If your child is frequently absent due to illness, the school may request permission to contact your GP for confirmation that they are too ill to attend school.
If it becomes clear that your child will be away from school for longer than expected, phone the school to explain this as soon as possible.