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Services in Christchurch

School attendance and absence

Why it's important for children to attend school

It's important children attend school because:

  • attendance has a direct link to attainment. If a child is not in school regularly they are not fully accessing the curriculum and learning opportunities available to them
  • achieving at school builds a child’s self-esteem, as well as enhancing their future prospects
  • attending school and being part of the school’s community gives a child a sense of belonging and promotes their social development
  • spending time with school staff teaches a child about society’s expectations with regards to behaviour and how to communicate with people in authority preparing them for adult life
  • attending school gives a child the opportunity to experience positive separation from their parent(s)/carer(s), which builds their confidence and resistance 

Good attendance

Although an exam mark of 90% is very good, when looking at school attendance 90% equates to half a day absence per week. This in turn equates to 4 weeks absence in an academic year. If a child persistently had 90% attendance over the course of their education they would have been absent for a whole year of their education.

What the law says about school attendance

The law states that it is:

  • the responsibility of parents to ensure that compulsory school aged children (5 to 16 years) access an appropriate educational provision
  • our duty to ensure that parents are fulfilling their responsibilities and if they fail to do so then we have a statutory power to intervene. Where appropriate this intervention may be legal action

Taking your child out of school in term time

Following amendments to the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 that came into effect 1 September 2013, schools are only allowed to grant leave of absence from school in exceptional circumstances.

When making a written request for leave of absence from school in term time you need to explain why the circumstances are exceptional, and therefore cannot be taken within the normal 13 weeks holiday your child has from school.

There is no obligation for schools to grant this leave of absence and therefore the absence will be recorded as unauthorised if you take your child out of school without permission. This may result in a request being made to us to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice. You can read about our school attendance code of conduct.

Paying a Fixed Penalty Notice

You may have received a Fixed Penalty Notice for your child's unauthorised absence from school.

You can pay a Fixed Penalty Notice using the invoice number on the letter we sent you.

What you need to do if your child is leaving school

We have a statutory responsibility to ensure as far as reasonably possible that all children entering, leaving or living in the area are accounted for and are therefore safe as well as receiving an education.

If your child leaves their current school you will be expected to supply a forwarding address and details of their new school. This applies whether you are moving within the area or further afield, including abroad.

We appreciate that on rare occasions full details are not always able to be confirmed. In this instance, as much detail as you can give, including up to date contact details, will be useful.

It is important that you are aware that without forwarding details your child cannot be removed from the school roll, their place cannot be offered to another child, and ultimately they will be regarded as a ‘child missing from education’.

Support for your family

There is support available to help families and their children overcome the barriers to good school attendance.

The Education Social Worker, in conjunction with 5-19 Services, is responsible for carrying out the statutory functions with regards to school attendance.

Together we work closely with schools to monitor and promote regular attendance of compulsory school age children. We will:

  • meet with pupils and parents in school and at home to discuss any attendance concerns
  • work closely with families to understand how best to support you
  • work with other agencies and services to offer you and your family a package of support which meets your needs
  • implement a range of legal interventions when necessary

For more information contact Laura Whittaker, Education Social Worker on 01305 221418.

If the query relates to a Fixed Penalty Notice Warning, Fixed Penalty Notice, or other enforcement action for non school attendance then you should refer to the contact details of any paperwork you have received.

Alternatively, you can contact 5-19 Services on 01202 261980 or email 5to19Requests@bcpcouncil.gov.uk.

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