Going to school regularly is important for your child's future. It’s not just beneficial, it’s essential. School attendance is directly linked to improved examination performance which often leads to more learning opportunities and better job prospects.
Parents also have a legal responsibility to make sure their children receive full-time education.
Benefits of school attendance
Attending school regularly can help children to develop:
- social skills
- team values
- life skills
- cultural awareness
- career pathways
Here are some key facts to show the importance of going to school:
- achieving 90 per cent in an examination is brilliant, but if your child is at school for only 90 per cent of the school year then they will have missed 19 days - almost four whole weeks of school! This is a big gap for any pupil to make up
- arriving on time. Being just 5 minutes late a day can lead to around 3½ full days missed a year. Being late 30 minutes a day can lead to almost 21 full days missed a year
Absence from school
There are going to be times when your child’s absence from school is unavoidable. This could be due to a number of reasons such as medical appointments, sickness or a family bereavement.
If your child is going to be absent, then you must let the school know immediately. The school will then record the absence. If you fail to notify the school as to why your child has not been present then the school may record that period of absence as being unauthorised.
If your child is absent from school on a regular basis due to illness, you may need to provide the school with the appropriate medical evidence.
Preventing your child from missing school
You can help prevent your child missing school by:
- having a routine from an early age and sticking it to it
- making sure your child understands the importance of good attendance and being on time
- making sure they understand the possible implications of not attending school
- taking an interest in their education - ask about school work and encourage them to get involved in school activities
- discussing any problems they may have at school and letting their teacher know about anything that is causing concern
If possible, you should also arrange medical appointments:
- after school hours
- at weekends
- during school holidays
Problems affecting school attendance
A child’s school attendance can be affected if there are problems with:
- housing or care arrangements
- transport to and from school
- work and money
- other problems within the home environment
If your child is absent for any of these reasons then you should discuss these with your child’s school.
Support for parents
A school may direct you to the Education Welfare Service which supports parents who may be experiencing difficulty in ensuring that their children attend school regularly.
This is a specialist education support service which helps children of a compulsory school age and their families to get the best out of the education system. They can offer advice and support to help you and your child to have good attendance at school.
Term time holidays
Parents should make every effort to ensure that their child does not miss school due going on holidays during term time. Schools are not obliged to agree to you taking your child on holiday during term time. They are entitled to record holidays as being an unauthorised absence.
Your legal responsibility and fines
You are legally responsible for making sure that your child attends school and arrives on time. Failing to do so could result in a penalty notice or being prosecuted.
A Penalty Notice involves a fine of £60 (rising to £120 if not paid after 28 days but within 42 days) following at least 10 sessions (5 school days) of unauthorised absence during a school term. Persistent late arrival at school i.e. after the register has closed, may also result in a Penalty Notice.