Going to school regularly is important to your child’s future.
For example, children who miss school frequently can fall behind with
their work and do less well in exams.
Good attendance shows
potential employers that your child is reliable. Research suggests that
children who attend school regularly could also be at less risk of
getting involved in antisocial behaviour or crime.
law, all children of compulsory school age (5-16 years old) must receive a
suitable full-time education. For most parents, this means registering
their child at a school - though some choose to make other arrangements
to provide a suitable, full-time education.
Once your child is
registered at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure they
attend regularly. If your child fails to do so, you risk getting a
penalty notice or being prosecuted.
If your child is ill or unable to attend school for some reason, you should contact the school by telephone and/or letter to inform them. The school will then ‘authorise’ this absence.
If your child has been away from school for three days (in some schools even sooner) without any parental contact, the school will send you a letter or make some other contact in order to check on the attendance. Such a letter could draw your attention to the fact that your child has been missing school without a reason. Such absence will be ‘unauthorised’ absence from school and it is unauthorised absence from school which carries with it the risk of prosecution.
There are many different issues which can affect school attendance. Examples include problems with:
- housing or care arrangements
- transport to and from school
- work and money
If your child starts missing school,
there may a problem you are not aware of. Ask your child first, then
approach their teacher or form tutor.
Support From School
school is the first place to go to discuss any attendance problems. The
school should try to agree a plan with you to improve your child’s
attendance (eg the fast-track to attendance programme). If you don’t
follow the plan and things don’t improve, the school will take further
action. 1,200 schools are currently using Parent Support Advisers (PSAs)
to work with parents to improve children's behaviour and attendance.
The government is expanding the availability of PSAs to allow them to
reach 10 to 15 schools in each local authority.
Support From the Local Authority
The local authority can also help if you are struggling to ensure that your
child goes to school. Potential forms of support include:
- home tuition for children with long term and recurring illnesses, so they do not fall too far behind
- support to help reduce the burden on children where families are
in difficulty (for example, if a child is spending a lot of time caring
- working with families and schools to overcome bullying and other serious problems
Support is provided by the Education Welfare Service.
Education Welfare Services (EWS)
The EWS monitors absence and works with families and young people where the level of absence is giving cause for concern. Education Welfare Officers (EWOs) have an area which includes one or two secondary schools and their contributory primary schools.
The EWS will work with the school who will identify causes for concern where they need the specialist help of the EWO. The EWO will often visit the home and talk with students and parents about the problem and seek to resolve it amicably and achieve a return to school. However, should there be no genuine reason for absence, the EWO has the power to prosecute the parents for not sending their children to school.
You can find out who your school's Education Welfare Officer is by using the school search, by contacting the school directly, or by contacting the Education Welfare Service
tel: 0115 854 6000 (Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe)
tel: 01623 433433 (Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Mansfield and Newark)