At Bishop’s Waltham Junior School the health, safety and well-being of every child is our top priority.
Parental attitude has a key influence on a child's school attendance and parents/carers can do much to encourage even reluctant pupils to attend.
Good school attendance habits are best started early. 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.
Be organised, have a plan, be consistent and involve your child.
A child whose attendance falls below 90% may find it difficult to keep up with expected achievement
A child whose attendance falls below 80% will rarely achieve their potential
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
poor school attendance is also closely associated with crime a quarter of school age offenders have truanted repeatedly
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.
By law, all children of compulsory school age (normally four 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.
Section 576 of the Education Act 1996 defines 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, is considered to be a parent in education law.
Schools must 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 holiday during term time since new regulations came in September 2013.
If your child needs a leave of absence you must ask for permission in advance. The headteacher can only approve the absence if he/she views 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 the school office or download a copy from the school website.
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 to plan and take their family holidays at this time so as not to disrupt their children’s education. The 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 how many days to approve.
Parents/carers who take their child out of school without written permission from the school can be issued with a fixed penalty fine.
Due to tightening of Government regulations about absences from school, all the schools in the Swanmore Pyramid will NOT be authorising leave of absence during term time for family holidays, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Government guidance makes it clear that the cheaper cost of a term time holiday or the need to fit in with parents’ work patterns or annual leave will not qualify as an exceptional circumstance.
As a parent/carer you may think you can give your child permission to be at home, you cannot. The only person who can give permission for a child to be absent from school is the school’s headteacher. If your child is sick or is absent for other unforeseen reasons, you must notify the school by telephone on the first day of absence and follow this up with a note once the child returns to school. You should let the school know:
The school’s headteacher will decide whether or not to authorise the absence, depending upon the reason given. For absences that are expected to last up to 15 school days and that are not part of a pattern of a recurring illness, the parents/carers should arrange with the school for work and homework to be set as soon as the child is able to cope with it. The school should also agree with you how completed work will be collected, marked and returned
When your child is unwell, it can be hard deciding whether to keep them off school. A few simple guidelines can help.
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.
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. This guidance can 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 the child should stay off school. Get more information in Common cold.
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. Learn more in Feverish illness in children.
Rash. 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 these conditions should be kept off school. They can return 48 hours after their symptoms disappear. Most cases of vomiting or diarrhoea get better without treatment, but if symptoms persist, consult your GP. Learn more in Rotavirus gastroenteritis.
Sore throat. A sore throat alone doesn't have to keep a child from school. If it's accompanied by a raised temperature, the child should stay at home.
You can read more about medicines for children's common health problems in Medicines for children.
You can get help identifying common childhood illnesses by using the Childhood illness slideshow.
It’s important to inform the school if your child is going to be absent. On the first day of your child's illness, telephone the school to tell them that your child will be staying at home. The school may ask about the nature of the illness and how long you expect the absence to last.
If it becomes clear that your child will be away for longer than expected, phone the school as soon as possible to explain this.
If absence is long-term or repeated schools may request proof that your child is genuinely unwell and unable to attend school as this is a key part of their safeguarding duties. Keep copies of any appointment letters or medical reports.
If your child:
the school may want to draw up a support plan, and consider whether to refer your child to our specialist services.
Education for pupils who are unable to attend school because of medical needs, can be provided for in the following ways:
Children who are admitted to NHS hospitals (including psychiatric units) in other areas will receive education through local hospitals, schools or an education centre.
Once you have registered your child at a school it is your responsibility to make sure that she/he attends regularly and punctually. If you fail to do so the Local Authority has a statutory duty to consider legal action to enforce school attendance. There are a number of legal and other avenues that the Local Authority can pursue, these include:
‘Application for Leave of Absence’ forms are available from the school office. Also, an information booklet for parents/carers can be obtained from the school office which explains all the guidelines surrounding holidays during term time. Thank you in advance for your continued support.
(NOTE: you may fill in this form and email it back to us if you prefer!)