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Attendance and Absence

School attendance: what you need to know

This explains why school attendance matters and how the school will respond to requests for children to be absent from school.


Don’t underestimate the importance of 100 percent attendance.

Even one day missed can have an effect on learning:

  • 98 percent attendance means four school days missed
  • 95 percent attendance means 10 school days missed
  • 90 percent attendance means 19 school days missed
  • 80 percent attendance means 38 school days missed
  • Five minutes late each day means three school days missed

Why does good attendance matter?

Good attendance and punctuality are vital for success at school, and to establish positive life habits that are necessary for future success.

Through regular attendance, pupils can:

  • Build friendships and develop social groups.
  • Develop life skills.
  • Engage in essential learning and other school social events.
  • Achieve to their full potential.
  • Minimise the risk of engaging in anti-social behaviour and becoming victims or perpetrators of crime.

We hope all parents/carers will promote good attendance and work in partnership with the school.

When can and can’t my child be absent from school?

When a pupil is absent from school, this will be classified as either ‘authorised’ or ‘unauthorised’.

Authorised absences

The governing board and headteacher decide which absences are authorised. Authorised absences are only permitted for valid reasons, e.g.:

  1. Service personnel returning from a tour of duty abroad where it is evidenced the individual will not be in receipt of any leave in the near future that coincides with school holidays.
  2. Where an absence from school is recommended by a health professional as part of a parent or child’s rehabilitation from a medical or emotional issue. 
  3. The death or terminal illness of a person close to the family.
  4. To attend a wedding or funeral of a person close to the family.
  5. Where there are exceptional and unforeseen circumstances that fall outside of 1 to 4 above, the Headteacher can consult with the Local Authority inclusion officer for school attendance prior to any authorisation being given to the parent. 

Wherever possible, parents should always try to arrange medical and dental appointments during school holidays or after school hours.

Unauthorised absences

Term-time holidays

Taking holidays during term time means that pupils miss important school time. It will be difficult for pupils to catch up on work when they return to school. Only in exceptional circumstances may a holiday be authorised during term time – this will be decided by the headteacher. Exceptional circumstances do not involve cheaper costs, family availability or weather conditions.

You can be fined by the Local Authority if you take your child on holiday during term time without authorisation from the headteacher.

All unauthorised absences, including holidays that have not been sanctioned by the Headteacher, are accumulated and parents who fail to ensure regular attendance of their children at school can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 by the Local Authority. The amount is £60 (per parent per child) if paid within 21 days and £120 (per parent per child) if paid between 21 and 28 days. Failure to pay a Penalty Notice will result in prosecution, except in limited circumstances.

The following criteria is used:

  • There have been 10 sessions (5 consecutive days) or more of unauthorised absence due to leave taking during an academic year.


  • Attendance is below 95% during the preceding 12 weeks before the leave was taken, and the absence is unauthorised.

Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider essential or reasonable. Unauthorised absences could lead to legal action being taken against you.

Unauthorised absences can include:

  • Forgetting school term dates
  • Oversleeping
  • Absences which have not been explained
  • Arriving at school after the register has closed
  • Leaving school for no reason during the day
  • Truancy before or during the school day
  • Keeping pupils off school unnecessarily or without explanation
  • Day trips or family outings
  • Problems with uniform/clothing
  • Birthdays and holidays
  • Holidays during term time

How do you request an absence?

Absences which can be planned for must be requested as far in advance as possible. If you think your child needs to be taken out of school, you should discuss the reasons with the head teacher as soon as possible, completing an Absence Request Form. If the head teacher is satisfied with the evidence (i.e. exceptional circumstances) and the notice period, they will authorise the absence. No absences will be authorised immediately before or during the statutory assessment periods.

For unplanned absences, such as for illness, parents/carers should contact the school as soon as possible to inform them of the situation. This can be via telephone: 01931 716274, or email

How does the school deal with lateness?

Good attendance doesn’t just involve being present in school – it also involves punctuality. You also have a responsibility to ensure that your child arrives to school on time, and stays in school during the day. All pupils are expected to be in their classrooms at 8:55am every day. If pupils are not in their classrooms by 9:05 am, they receive a late mark.  The school doors are secured at 9:00 am – if pupils are late, they are required to sign in at reception. This ensures the security of the school site.

What does the law says about school attendance?

All children of compulsory school age must receive a suitable full-time education. You are responsible for ensuring this happens, either by registering your child at a school or by making appropriate alternative arrangements.

Once registered at school, you are legally responsible for ensuring that your child attends regularly. If you do not legal action can be taken against you by the Local Authority (Cumbria County Council). It is a legal offence to fail to ensure your child attends school regularly.

Legal action can involve a penalty notice or being taken to court. Parents/carers also face the risk of imprisonment and parenting orders. Parenting orders involve attending a counselling and guidance programme. A penalty notice of £60 may be issued as an alternative to prosecution, but this will rise to £120 if it is not paid within 21 days. Failure to pay a penalty notice will usually lead to prosecution.

For more information contact the Head Teacher, Mrs Katie Chappell ( )