‘Pupils need to attend school regularly to benefit from their education. Missing out on lessons leaves children vulnerable to falling behind. Children with poor attendance tend to achieve less in both primary and secondary school.’
School Attendance – Departmental Advice August 2013
In recent years a lot of research has been carried out on the importance of good attendance and the effect that poor attendance can have on children’s attainment and their future life chances. For example, 90% attendance might sound quite acceptable but what that means in reality is:
- on average half a day’s school missed every week
- in one year four whole weeks of schooling missed
- in five years half of a school year missed.
- a GCSE grade drop in attainment in each subject
Across Dorset schools there is a clear pattern:
- if a student is absent for less than one day a month they have an 87% chance of getting 5 A*- C grades at GCSE
- if a student is absent for less than one day in a fortnight they have a 75% chance of getting 5 A*-C grades at GCSE
- if a student is absent once a week or more they have only a 20% chance of getting 5 A*-C grades at GCSE
Habits of poor attendance and lateness in school are often repeated in working life. Poor attendance in the work place cost the UK £12 billion in 2003. One billion hours of teaching time was missed by children in the UK in that same year!
At Cranborne CE VA First School, the classroom doors open at 8:35 am and Attendance Registers are taken at 8:45 am. Pupils who are not present for registration are marked as absent initially. If a child then arrives before 9:15 am, this will be changed to ‘present but late’. Any pupil arriving after 9:15 am will be marked with an unauthorised mark, unless there is another reason for the late arrival, for example a medical appointment.
Persistent lateness is followed up, initially by a meeting between the class teacher and the family to ascertain reasons and explain the impact of the lateness. If punctuality continues to be an issue, the Headteacher, Annette Faithfull and/or Sian Phillips the Attendance Lead will meet with the family.
- If you feel that your child is unhappy at school please speak to your child’s class teacher in the first instance. This will ensure that we can work together quickly to solve any issues before they become an obstacle to attendance.
- Ensure that your child attends school regularly, arrives on time, follows the uniform guidelines and brings the necessary equipment for the day.
- Talk with your child about the importance of good attendance at school and how it can affect their future.
- If at all possible try to keep medical appointments outside of the school day, inform the school well in advance if this is not possible.
- Only grant days at home for genuine illness – you know your child.
- Do not take your child on holiday during term time.
- Praise and reward good attendance.
- Report your child’s absence if they are too poorly to attend. Please contact the school before 9:15am. Please do this for each day your child is absent (unless you have informed us that s/he has been signed off by a doctor for an extended period of time).
If attendance is causing a concern we will do everything we can to support our families to see an improvement. We will often seek support from the Attendance Service at Dorset County Council who will work directly with parents and children to help address any issues which may be affecting attendance. Every child’s attendance will be monitored carefully and if a child’s attendance begins to drop a meeting will be arranged with the Headteacher to discuss how we can improve this.
All children are expected to attend school for the full 190 days of the academic year and parents have a statutory responsibility to ensure this.
Taking your chlld out of school for two weeks (ten school days) for an unauthorised holiday during term time will reduce their attendance to 94% before any account is taken of days off for illness.
Schools are required to inform the Local Authority if a child has unauthorised absences of ten or more sessions in a twelve week period. As there are two sessions in a day, this equates to five full days or ten half days in a twelve week period.
Unauthorised absences are not approved by the school and typically include holidays and outings, or absences with no explanations. Dorset County Council are now issuing penalty notices for unauthorised absences which have arisen since the Supreme Court ruling on the 6th of April. Please be aware Penalty notices are £60 per parent per child.
When your child is unwell, it can be difficult deciding whether to keep them home from school. We hope these simple guidelines from the NHS may be useful.
Not every illness needs to keep your child from school. If you keep your child away from school, be sure to inform the school on the first day of their absence.
Use common sense when deciding whether or not your child is too ill to attend school.
Ask yourself the following questions.
- Is my child well enough to do the activities of the school day? If not, keep your child at home.
- Does my child have a condition that could be passed on to other children or school staff? If so, keep your child at home.
- Would I take a day off work if I had this condition? If so, keep your child at home.
If your child is ill, it’s likely to be due to one of a few minor health conditions.
Whether you send your child to school will depend on how severe you think the illness is. Use this guidance to help you make that judgement.
Remember: if you’re concerned about your child’s health, consult a health professional.
- Cough and cold A child with a minor cough or cold may attend school. If the cold is accompanied by a raised temperature, shivers or drowsiness, the child should stay off school, visit the GP and return to school 24 hours after they start to feel better. If your child has a more severe and long-lasting cough, consult your GP. They can give guidance on whether your child should stay off school.
- Raised temperature If your child has a raised temperature, they shouldn’t attend school. They can return 24 hours after they start to feel better.
- Rash Skin 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.
- Headache 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 diarrhoea and/or vomiting should definitely be kept off school until 48 hours after their symptoms have gone. Most cases of diarrhoea and vomiting in children get better without treatment, but if symptoms persist, consult your GP.
- Sore throat A sore throat alone doesn’t have to keep a child from school. But if it’s accompanied by a raised temperature, your child should stay at home.
- Chickenpox If your child has chickenpox, keep them off school for five days after the rash first appears
More information can be found on the NHS website: