In order to achieve academic success and engage fully in the life of the school, pupils must attend regularly and punctually.
The importance of school attendance
Regular school attendance allows a pupil to make positive relationships with staff and other pupils. It enables a child to feel they belong within the school community and provides and opportunity to experience success and satisfaction. If a child is absent when new work is introduced they will find it difficult to understand the topic. In the case of pupils in Year 10 and Year 11, absence may result in missed deadlines for project work which affects GCSE results. In these circumstances some children give up trying, some become distressed, while others vent their frustration by misbehaving.
The consequences are:
- The child is unhappy and frustrated
- Parents and teachers are faced with increasingly difficult behaviour
- The pupils choices of employment, training and opportunities in later life are much reduced
- The education of other pupils is disrupted.
Responding to pupil absence
Frequent absence from school is often an early indication of difficulties affecting the child and / or family.
Poor attendance may result from fear or anxiety which the child experiences in school or may be the result of difficult or traumatic experiences within the family or wider community.
Education Welfare Officers work in partnership with pupils, parents, schools and other agencies to encourage and support regular attendance. They also provide advice, guidance and support to address issues which lead to irregular attendance and school refusal.
Schools are required by law to classify absence as authorised or unauthorised. If the absence is due to sickness or unavoidable cause it will be authorised by the school. In other circumstances absence may be deemed to be unauthorised.
Unauthorised absence is a particular cause of concern in that it may indicate that the child is at risk as a consequence of truancy or that parental control is inadequate or ineffective.
In order to enable schools to determine the cause of absence it is important that parents and carers inform the school when a child is unable to attend. This ensures that if a child is missing from registration the school is aware of the circumstances. This enables appropriate procedures relating to Child Protection to be put into place when the whereabouts of a child is uncertain or unknown.
It is the duty of the Local Authority to explore the reasons for non-school attendance and to take appropriate steps to address the cause. This involvement may include advice and guidance regarding Local Authority policies and procedures, information regarding statutory responsibilities of parents and in certain circumstances negotiate and mediation with education providers.
In dealing with issues relating to school attendance the needs of the child will be paramount. As a consequence the Local Authority will, in certain circumstances, institute legal proceedings in either the Magistrates’ or Family Proceedings Court in order to ensure that children and young people have access to appropriate educational opportunities.
- Education Welfare Statutory Procedures: a guide for parents [PDF 211KB]
A useful guide for parents and carers covering pre-court meeting, evidence for prosecution, defence against prosecution, attendance at court, court proceedings and possible outcomes
- The Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) interview: a guide [PDF 227KB]
Request to attend an interview under caution - what it means
The law directs schools to mark pupils absent who arrive after registration.
Dealing with difficulties or further questions
If you have problems or concerns regarding the school attendance of your child you should discuss these issues with school staff. They may suggest you contact the Education Welfare Service.
For more information see GOV.UK: School Attendance