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In our Federation, we have clear expectations with regards to attendance.  High levels of school attendance are so important for your child’s education and progress in later life and we are aiming for every pupil to achieve attendance levels of at least 95%.

We know that the Covid-19 pandemic caused significant disruption to children’s learning across the country. It is more important than ever that children, where possible, are back in school where they – with the support of their teaching staff and their families – can lay the foundations for their future education and employment.

We completely understand that each family’s circumstances are different and that, for a small number of children and young people, regular school attendance is not always possible.

In cases where a child is not able to attend school every day, for example for medical reasons, the Council’s Inclusion Service works closely with schools and families to ensure that those children receive a continued education as far as possible, while balancing this against any other needs or challenges they and their families may be facing. The SEN Service is dedicated to supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), to ensure they have access to high quality learning opportunities and can achieve the best possible outcomes for their future.

Supporting your child's school attendance

Good school attendance habits are best started early. We know that children learn from those around them and you as parents/carers set the standards and expectations for your child. Showing your child the importance of attending school every day not only helps your child to settle quickly when starting school but helps them to keep and maintain friendships and enjoy the school environment.  Below are suggestions to support the school attendance for all our children:

  • create good routines for mornings at home so that your child can arrive punctually and they are properly equipped; this will also mean your mornings can start calmly too
  • make time to encourage and show interest. Chat to them about the things they have learnt, what friends they have made and even what they had for lunch! Remember children can be tired when coming out of school, so a short chat over a snack or later that evening may produce a better result than a long list of questions
  • read all school communications
  • attend school open evenings and functions
  • check your child understands any homework that has been set and that it has been completed. Support them in completing homework by creating a calm space for them to work in and set specific times during the week when homework should be done.
  • avoid absence from school wherever possible – try to make doctors and dental appointments out of school hours. Absence means your child will miss out on the academic studies and will also learn that education is not the main priority within the family. This can have a lifelong effect.

There tend to be good reasons why children become reluctant to attend school. Take the time to listen to your child, share any concerns you or your child may have with the appropriate member of school staff and seek support at the very earliest opportunity.


Your responsibilities as a parent

By law, all children of compulsory school age (normally five to 16) must receive a suitable full-time education. As a parent, you have a legal responsibility to make sure this happens – either by registering your child at a school or by making other arrangements to give them a suitable, full-time education. Once your child is registered at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure they attend regularly. This means your child should not have sessions of unauthorised absence.

Section 576 of the Education Act 1996 defines a parent as:

  • all natural parents, whether they are married or not
  • any person who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility for a child or young person
  • any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person

Having care of a child or young person means that a person with whom the child lives and who looks after the child, irrespective of what their relationship is with the child; this is considered to be a parent in education law.


Recording your child’s attendance

We take an attendance register twice a day, which is a legal document that is kept for five years. Any absences will be recorded with a specific code depending on the type of absence. Absences fall into two main categories:

  • authorised – those which schools can give you permission for
  • unauthorised – those which they will not

Examples of absences which the school is unlikely to authorise can include:

  • sickness of a parent, or other family member
  • inadequate clothing for school
  • child being used as a carer
  • problems with transport
  • non-urgent medical treatment
  • school refusal or truancy
  • days off for birthdays, shopping trips
  • family holidays since new regulations came in September 2013

If your child needs a leave of absence you must ask for permission in advance. As headteachers, we can only approve the absence if we view them to be exceptional reasons. The headteacher also decides on the number of days to authorise or unauthorise. You can request a leave of absence form from your child’s school.


Why is high attendance important to my child's education?

As a parent/carer you want the best for your children. Having a good education is an important factor in opening up more opportunities in adult life. Did you know that:


  • a child who is absent a day of school per week misses an equivalent of two years of their school life
  • 90% of young people with absence rates below 85% fail to achieve five or more good grades of GCSE and around one third achieve no GCSEs at all
  • poor examination results limit young people’s options and poor attendance suggests to colleges and employers that these students are unreliable
  • at least 1 million children take at least one half day off a year without permission
  • 7.5 million school days are missed each year through unauthorised absence


GCSEs may seem a long way off for you and your child but all absence at any stage leads to gaps in your child’s learning. This in turn can:


  • mean that they fall behind in work
  • affect their motivation
  • affect their enjoyment of learning
  • lead to poor behaviour
  • affect their desire to attend school regularly
  • affect their confidence in school
  • mean they miss out on the social life of school and extra-curricular opportunities and experiences
  • affect their ability to have or keep friendships


Family holidays and school holidays

Children have 13 weeks’ annual holiday from school and school holiday dates are published well in advance online. As such, all parents/carers are expected wherever possible to plan and take their family holidays at this time so as not to disrupt their children’s education. Education law states that parents do not have a right to take their child out of school for a holiday during term time. Only in exceptional circumstances may a headteacher grant permission for leave; and it is the headteachers decision on whether the absence is exceptional and how many days to approve.


Parents/carers who take their child out of school without the absence being agreed and authorised by written permission from the school can be issued with a penalty fine.


Circumstances when a Penalty Notice is issued

A Penalty Notice is a fine which may be issued as an alternative to prosecution. If it is paid it does not require a court appearance and does not result in a criminal record.

Section 444A of the Act gives powers to the local authority, and headteachers to issue Penalty Notices in circumstances where it is believed that a person has committed an offence under Section 444(1); that is, where a child fails to attend regularly at their registered school.

As set down by the Department for Education, Penalty Notices can be issued for unauthorised absence. In Hampshire, Penalty Notices are issued when a pupil has had 10 or more half-day sessions (equivalent to five school days) of unauthorised absence, in the last 10 school week period.  

Unauthorised absence is absence not approved by the school and will be coded on your child’s attendance record as one of the following:

O: unauthorised absence
U:  late after close of registration
G: non-approved leave of absence (holiday).
Persistent Lateness (L) code which reaches the threshold may result in the issuing of a Penalty Notice.

Where absence warrants the issuing of a Penalty Notice, anyone with Parental Responsibility, or having day to day care of the child can be issued with one Penalty Notice for each of the children with unauthorised absence.  If two parents have two children, this may result in four Penalty Notices (2 Penalty Notices per parent).  A penalty notice is a fine of £60 per parent/carer for periods of unauthorised absence – therefore a family with two children could potentially receive a penalty notice of £240.


Please can all parents ensure that holiday/absence requests are completed on a holiday request form (this can be downloaded from the website or obtained from the office) and that a discussion is held with Mr Stangroom about the planned absence. There are very few exceptional circumstances where a holiday request will be approved, and all parents are reminded of the importance of school attendance, as per the Hampshire guidance.