Attendance at school: guidance for parents and carers

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As a parent or carer you will understand that it is very important that your child attends school regularly and on time.  Any absence disrupts a child’s education and may mean that they are unable to catch up with essential learning. While teachers do try to help children catch up with missed learning, this does create additional work for teachers. When pupils are late, this interrupts the lesson. They may also miss important information or instructions and then find it more difficult to participate in the lesson.

Absence for Medical or other Authorised Reasons

If your child needs to be absent from school for medical or other essential reasons, it is important that you contact the school by phone or give the school a written note explaining the absence. (Translated absence notes are available from your child’s school, for you to complete and return.) Absences for medical or other essential reasons will be recorded as ‘authorised absence’ on your child’s attendance records.

Parents may also take their children out of school for other authorised reasons, such as religious holidays, family weddings, bereavements and other family or compassionate reasons. These will be recorded as ‘authorised absence’. Parents should notify the school of such absences as early as possible to ensure that absence is recorded correctly. If you become aware that an absence has been incorrectly recorded, you can ask for this to be corrected at a later date within the school year.

Absence for other Exceptional Circumstances

Other absence may be authorised only in exceptional circumstances. If parents wish to request absence of up to two weeks from school for exceptional circumstances, they should make a written request to the Head Teacher, giving details. The decision to authorise such absence is at the Head Teacher’s discretion, following Communities and Families department guidelines. Requests for absence of more than two weeks will be referred to the Communities and Families (education) department.

Unauthorised Absence

Any absence which is not for medical or other authorised reasons will be recorded as ‘unauthorised’ on your child’s attendance record.

Heritage Visits

Heritage visits can play an important part in a child or young person’s language, cultural and family development. Parents who are considering a heritage visit to their family’s country of origin should, in the first instance, seek to make this visit within the 12 weeks of annual school holidays. Where this is not possible, you should discuss any planned absence with the school at the earliest possible opportunity. Discussing your plans with the school will help minimise disruption to your child’s education and enable the school to help you make the visit educationally enriching. Your child’s teachers and EAL teacher may be able to suggest ways in which your child can link the experiences of the visit with their learning in school and thus contribute to the school curriculum.