Did you know...?
90% attendance might sound good but means that your child misses on average:
- One half day every week.
- Nearly four weeks every school year.
- Over one school year in a school career.
2 weeks holiday in term time every year with no other absences means that your child:
- Can only ever achieve 95% attendance
- Will miss about two terms in a school career
5 minutes late every day means missing about 3 days of school every year
Schools and the local authority monitor school absence and work with families and young people where the level of absence is giving cause for concern. The information within this section explains the law and how legal sanctions for irregular attendance at school are applied in Newcastle.
Does my child have to go to school?
The law makes parents and carers responsible for ensuring that their children of compulsory school age (5 to 16) receive a suitable, full-time education (Section 7, Education Act 1996). This can be either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
What should I do if my child is absent from school?
If your child is going to be absent, contact the school on the first morning and keep the school up to date if it turns out to be a longer absence.
It is a school that decides whether or not to authorise an absence.
If there is a problem speak to the school - support will be available but staff need to be told about any difficulties as soon as possible.
What can happen if my child is absent from school on a regular basis?
- Missing out on coursework and it can be very hard to catch up.
- Losing touch with friends and teaching staff.
- Finding it more difficult to have a successful future after leaving school.
- Having more opportunities to become involved in crime and anti-social behaviour either as victim or perpetrator.
- If your children are registered at school, the law makes you responsible for making sure that they attend regularly.
- Monitor attendance and will try to support pupils who may be having difficulties
- Have to inform the Local Authority of every pupil who doesn't attend regularly.
- Can refer concerns about attendance to the Attendance Service.
What about absence due to illness?
If your child is ill, it’s important to take time to get better, but infection doesn’t always mean that your child has to be off school for ages!
What about family holidays in term time?
Pupils don't have the right to have time off for family holidays in term time. Schools can give permission for all, part or none of the time requested but can only give permission in exceptional circumstances.
You must apply in advance for permission to have a family holiday in term time.
If school doesn't give permission and you go anyway, the absences will be marked as unauthorised and you may be issued with a penalty notice for each child when you return.
What legal sanctions can the Local Authority use?
The Local Authority may take legal action against you if your children do not attend regularly and the absences aren't authorised by the school (Section 444, Education Act 1996).
Penalty notice issued under Sections 444A and 444B, Education Act 1996:
- £60 fine if paid within 21 days, rising to £120 if paid within 22-28 days.
- Non-payment will result in a prosecution for the original offence.
Education Supervision Order (Section 447, Education Act 1996; Section 36, Children Act 1989):
- Makes the Local Authority responsible for advising, supporting and giving directions to the supervised child and parents to make sure that the child is being properly educated.
- You may be guilty of an offence if you persistently fail to comply with reasonable directions and the maximum fine is £1,000.
Prosecution under Section 444(1), Education Act 1996:
- 'If a child of compulsory school age who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at the school, his parent is guilty of an offence. If you are found guilty, the maximum fine is £1,000.'
Prosecution under Section 444(1A), Education Act 1996 (as amended by Section 109, Education and Inspections Act 2006):
- 'If (in the circumstances above), the parent knows the child is failing to attend regularly at the school and fails to cause him to do so; the parent is guilty of an offence, unless he can prove he had reasonable justification.'
- This is a more serious offence and a warrant can be issued to make you attend court. If you are found guilty, the maximum fine is £2,500 and/or you could be sentenced to up to 3 months in prison.
- Please be aware that irregular attendance at alternative provision is subject to the same sanctions as irregular attendance at school.
How can I help my child to get the best out of school?
- Be aware of the impact of regular absences - missing school is missing out.
- Build up good habits of punctuality and attendance. These start early in life, so even before your child starts school, establish good routines, such as reading before bedtime and going to bed on time.
- Make sure your child understands the benefits of regular attendance at school.
- If your child is off school, you must let the school know why and tell them when they can expect your child back.
- It can be difficult, but try to make all appointments for the doctor, dentist, optician after school hours or during the school holidays where possible.
- Don't let your child stay off for reasons like going shopping, birthdays, minding the house, looking after brothers and sisters.
- Avoid taking family holidays in term time.
- Take an active interest in your child’s school work and offer support with homework.
- Attend parents’ evenings to discuss your child’s progress.
- Don’t let your child stay off school for a minor ailment.
- Each school day is split into two sessions and the attendance register is taken every morning and afternoon. If your child is poorly first thing or but improves by lunchtime, send them into school for the afternoon session.
- If your child recovers from illness before the end of the week, send them back to school even if it's only for one day - every day counts.
What if I am worried about my child’s school attendance?
Talking to the school is the best place to start. Don't be afraid to get to know your child's teachers and head teacher - sharing problems is the first step to solving them. Your school will have an attendance policy available from the school or on their website. It will often identify who is the right person to talk to.
Phone: 0191 277 4500
Links to Newcastle City Council Website