School Attendance

Why regular attendance is important

Children have a right to a good education to help them fulfill their potential and to develop the skills required to access the world of work and other opportunities.

Children can only benefit and make the most of their educational opportunities if they attend school regularly and on time.

Some reasons why children may truant or stay off school:

  • Problems with lessons/teachers
  • Mixing with friends who truant/have left school
  • Boredom
  • Family difficulties
  • To avoid detention
  • Unfinished homework
  • Bullying
  • Behavioural problems
  • No friends in form/class
  • They prefer to engage in alternative activities
  • Parents do not encourage them to go to school

90% Attendance sounds good, but means that your child misses:

one half day each week

nearly four weeks every school year

over one school year in a school career

Truancy - what signs to look for

The following are signs that could mean your child may be truanting:

  • No homework
  • No information from school about School events
  • Lack of interest in discussing school
  • Mixing with young people who have left school
  • Mixing with children who you know truant from school
  • An eagerness to get the post before you do (to stop you receiving letters from school)
  • Having a good knowledge of what is on daytime TV
  • An eagerness to know your whereabouts during the day and what time you would be at home

Holidays in Term Time

From September 2013 Headteachers cannot authorise an absence purely for the reason of a family holiday unless there are exceptional circumstances if:
  • you feel you have exceptional circumstances you must speak to the Headteacher prior to making arrangements or taking any absence.  Proof of your exceptional circumstances must be provided at the time you request for absence
  • your request is declined for authorised absence and you take your child/children out of school this absence will be unauthorised and you may receive a penalty notice.  Each parent within the household will be issued with a £60 penalty notice for each child you have taken out of school
  • penalty notice remains unpaid after 21 days it will increase to £120.  If after 28 days it still remains unpaid you may be summonsed to appear before a Magistrates to explain why your child/children has unauthorised school absence and maybe liable for a fine of up to £1000

Two weeks holiday in term time each year means that your child can:

only ever achieve 95% attendance

will miss about 20 weeks or 100 days of school work

What parents/carers can do

The following are ways that you can help to tackle the problem of truancy:

  • Inform school if your child has to be off school (preferably prior to absence or on the first day of a medical absence)
  • Talk to your child about his/her school day
  • Attend school Parent' Evening
  • Find out what the school's Attendance Policy and practice is
  • Do not allow your child to be absent without good cause
  • Arrange family holidays during the school holidays not in term time
  • Arrange visits to the Doctor, Dentist, Opticians etc for outside of school hours
  • Take a positive interest in your child's homework
  • Let your children know you care and that if they are experiencing any difficulties, that they can talk to you
  • Do not allow your child to be absent for birthdays, haircuts or shopping
  • If there are any problems, speak to your child's class/form teacher, Deputy Head or Headteacher

What the law says

The law relating to school attendance is detailed in the Education Act, Sections 445 - 447; the Children Act 1989, Section 36; the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 (February 27th 2004), Section 19

To summarise:

  • Parents/Carers have a legal responsibility to ensure that their child/children receive an education appropriate to their age, aptitude and ability, either by regular school attendance or otherwise
  • Parents/Carers are responsible for ensuring that their child/children attend school each day and arrive on time.
  • Parents/Carers must not allow their child/children to work during school hours
  • Parents/Carers can receive up to a 3 month imprisonment or £2,500 fine as a result of not ensuring their child/children's attendance at school
  • Parents/Carers can receive a Penalty Notice (up to £120) for a period of unauthorised absence (i.e. unauthorised holidays in term time)
  • Parents/carers can receive a Penalty Notice if a child is out in a public place unsupervised while excluded from school

The School Attendance Team

The purpose of the School Attendance Team is to promote and encourage school attendance and punctuality. The School Attendance Team is responsible for enforcing the Law in relation to School Attendance.

Each school in Hartlepool allocates time from the School Attendance Team to assist the school in improving Attendance and Punctuality.

A School Attendance Officer's role covers:

Offering support to families and pupils to assist them in securing regular school attendance. This may include:

  • Home visits
  • Meeting pupils in school to offer support and advice
  • Liaison between home and school to improve communication links and resolve any difficulties that have hindered progress

Working in partnership with the Child and Adult Services Department and other agencies to promote the child's welfare and gain appropriate support. This may include:

  • Referral to social care staff for support
  • Referral to the School Medical Officer
  • Referral for psychologist support
  • Referral via the HUB for support

Ensuring that the statutory duty in relation to school attendance is carried out. This includes:

  • Half termly register checks
  • Prosecuting parents who fail to secure their child's attendance at school
  • Supervising an Education Supervision Order
  • Enforce a School Attendance Order
  • Issue a Penalty Notice