Attendance may seem to be something that schools are paranoid about. Ofsted judge it, it can be shown on school reports and it is an area where other agencies can become involved. For parents, this may seem a bit OTT!

Children should be in school. Obviously if they are not there they cannot learn. However it goes beyond this. Missing odd days here and there mean that their learning is disjointed. Teachers are not able to go back over everything that may have been missed and so the child is always playing catch-up.

It is recommended that for a child to really make progress, their attendance should be AT LEAST 95%. If you think that the number of schools days children have to attend is 190 (yes – that is all!) it only takes them to be away for 10 days across the school year to take them below that figure.

In the past schools have agreed to children being taken on holiday for up to 10 days during school time. Now, they realize that an additional 2 weeks away from learning would mean them coming down to 89%. This is precise learning time being wasted.

The other, and really the most important reason for this stress on attendance is safety. If you have not contacted the school to tell them your child is not coming in, they have no idea where they are. Sadly, you will know all too well some of the awful things that happen to children.

There are two types of absence:
  1. Authorised absence means that school have been given a reason for the absence and have agreed to allow it. Obviously if the child is poorly, they cannot do otherwise! However, sometimes special requests are made for time away e.g funeral. Authorization will not be given for things like a birthday or to go and buy shoes!
  2. Unauthorised absence is just what is says on the tin! Your child will have missed school for a reason that the school does not agree with. If you child has a 5-10 of these, you may get a letter from the Educational Welfare Officer to discuss the situation with you.
So, some guidelines for attendance:
  1. Always contact the school if your child is not fit to attend school. This should be as early as possible but certainly by 9.30am
  2. Always speak to the school if you feel that time off is needed.
  3. Use the support available. We know there are some children who find school difficult and will try to make an excuse to stay away. We also know there are parents who may not be organized in the morning and end up not taking children to school. There are people to help in these situations so please ask.