School Attendance

At Dean Trust Ardwick our expectations of attendance are very high, as we know that pupils can only achieve if they are in school.  It is parents’ and carers’ responsibility to ensure their child attends school regularly and arrives on time.

The law (s444 Education Act 1996) states that:

‘A parent commits an offence if they fail to ensure their child’s regular attendance at a school where the child is registered’.

Once a pupil’s attendance falls below 98%, it then becomes a concern to us and we start to monitor their attendance closely. We support parents and carers by following a number of stages to help remedy the problem. The issue is escalated following any further absences after the phone call alert.

  1. A phone call home to alert you of our concerns when attendance falls below 98%.
  2. An initial letter formally raising our concerns.
  3. A meeting at school, together with a letter which states that all following absences will be unauthorised (unless accompanied by medical evidence).
  4. A warning letter of Fixed Penalty Notice when 5 unauthorised sessions (2.5 days) have accumulated.
  5. As a last resort, a letter informing you of our decision to refer to the Local Authority for statutory action.
    (i.e. Fixed Penalty Notice or Prosecution).

There may the exceptional occasion where your child is ill and there is no alternative but to stay at home to ensure a speedy recovery. We would expect you will take your child to the doctor in such cases. Please note that absence from school will likely follow with a home visit from us.

In all cases of absence, a phone call to inform us, or an absence note is required. (There is a page in the pupils’ planner for the note). The Headteacher reserves the right not to authorise absences if the reason is not deemed acceptable.

Please do not make doctors and other medical appointments during the school day (unless it is a hospital appointment and you have been give the date and time).

Parents and carers should consider very carefully if their child is too ill to come into school. Children should come into school if:

(see website leaflet which gives information about sickness absence)

What to do if a child is absent

Parents / carers should:

  • Ring the school as soon as possible after 8am and before 8.30am with an explanation of the absence.
  • Ring the school or write a note for the Form Tutor to explain the reason for absence once back in school.

The school will:

  • Notify the parent / carer via text shortly after the register closes at 9.10 am if no reason has been given for an absence.
  • Ring the parent/ carer during the day if the school receives no reason for absence after 10am.
  • Make a home visit on the second day of absence if the school is not fully satisfied with the reason for absence.
  • Mark the pupil’s absence as unauthorised if the reason for absence is unsatisfactory, or after three days (?) if no reason has been provided.

Taking pupils out of school during the school day

  • Appointments for medical purposes other than hospital should be made outside of school hours. Evidence of the appointment should be provided in order to authorise the absence.
  • Pupils should not be taken out of school during the school day for any other reasons unless permission has been granted by the Headteacher from a written request by parent/ carer.

Holidays during term time

The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 specify that Headteachers may not grant any leave of absence to pupils during term time unless they consider there to be ‘exceptional circumstances’.

If a Headteacher grants leave, he or she should determine the number of days the child can be away from school.

There is no entitlement for parents to take their child on holiday during term time. Parents can be fined for taking your child on holiday during term time without consent from the school. Absence during term time should be avoided because children can fall behind with their work and may find it difficult to integrate.

An application for leave must be made in writing to the school, detailing the exceptional circumstances. (Please find Absence Request form on the website or collect one from school reception.

The Headteacher must be satisfied the circumstances warrant the granting of leave.

Exceptional circumstances include:

  • When a family needs to spend time together because of an immediate family members bereavement, crisis or serious illness
  • Funeral of immediate family member
  • Religious observance
  • Transport was not provided by the LA when it should have been
  • Children of service personnel about to go on deployment (permission would be considered as long as the request is accompanied by a letter from the Commanding Officer)
  • One day of absence could be authorised for a wedding of an immediate family member and the invitation has been provided as evidence
  • One off sporting events/performing arts competitions, if the child is participating and is at county standard or above and a letter has been provided from the performing arts/sports regional governing body as evidence
  • One day of absence could be authorised for an immediate family members graduation ceremony/passing out parade
  • Medical appointments (parents/carers should be encouraged to arrange non-urgent medical appointments outside of school hours when possible. If the medical appointment is during the school day, evidence must be provided. Schools should not authorise a whole days absence for a medical appointment that occurs in the morning – the child would be expected to return to school in the afternoon, and vice versa.

Absence will not be authorised for reasons such as the following:

  • To care for other family members
  • Birthdays
  • To interpret for other family members
  • No school uniform/shoes
  • Bullying
  • Friendship problems
  • Head lice
  • Learning difficulties
  • Family holiday
  • Weddings abroad – regardless of whether it is for immediate family members
  • Family Anniversaries
  • Death of a pet
  • Travel problems
  • School refusal

(The immediate family is a defined group of relations, used in rules or laws to determine which members of a person’s family are affected by those rules. It normally includes a person’s parents, spouses, siblings and children. It can contain others connected by birth, adoption, marriage, civil partnership, or cohabitation, such as grandparents, grandchildren, siblings-in-law, half-siblings, adopted children and step-parents/step-children, and cohabiting partners.)

Taking the register

  • Pupils are registered for their morning session at 8.40am and the afternoon session at 1.20pm.
  • Absent pupils without a reason are coded ‘N’ (no reason given) and counts as unauthorised until a satisfactory reason is provided within 3 days. ( see above)
  • Pupils will receive a lesson attendance mark for every lesson.

Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN)

The decision of whether or not to issue a Fixed Penalty Notices is made by the  Headteacher. The Local Authority issues the FPN and payment is made to the Local Authority. Parents/ carers will receive a letter from the school (stage 4 above) alerting parents to the possibility of a FPN being issued if attendance does not improve ( stage 4 above) and a further letter will be sent of necessary if then it is necessary notifying them of the Headteacher’s decision to issue a FPN ( stage 5)

FPNs may be issued for:

  • 10 or more unauthorised sessions of absence ( 5 school days) within a rolling academic year.
  • One-off instances of irregular attendance such as holidays taken in term time without permission.
  • Where an excluded pupil is found in a public place during school hours .

The Fixed Penalty Notice fine is currently £60 per parent if payment is made within 21 days, and £120 per parent after this date

School Attendance Orders

If it appears to the Local Authority that a pupil is not receiving a suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise, then they must begin procedures for issuing a School Attendance Order. The order will require the child’s parents to register their child at a named school. If they fail to comply with the order the parent can be prosecuted.


The parent may be guilty of an offence if they fail to send their child to school regularly or if they fail to comply with a School Attendance Order.

Local authorities have the power to prosecute parents who fail to comply with a school attendance order (section 443 of the Education Act 1996) or fail to ensure their child’s regular attendance at a school (section 444 of the Education Act 1996)6.

Only local authorities can prosecute parents and they must fund all associated costs.

The Local Authority must consider applying for an Education Supervision Order (ESO) before prosecuting parents. A local authority may apply for an ESO instead of or as well as prosecuting parents. The order is placed on the child and the local authority is appointed by the court to supervise that child’s education, either at a school, or at home for a specified period of time.

Parenting Contracts

A parenting contract is a formal written signed agreement between parents and either the local authority or the governing body of a school and should contain:

  • A statement by the parents that they agree to comply for a specified period with whatever requirements are set out in the contract; and
  • A statement by the Local Authority or governing body agreeing to provide support to the parents for the purpose of complying with the contract.

Parenting contracts are voluntary but any non-compliance should be recorded by the school or Local Authority as it may be used as evidence in court where an application is made for a behaviour parenting order.

Parenting Orders

Parenting Orders are imposed by the court and the parents’ agreement is not required before an order is made.

Parenting orders are available as an ‘ancillary order’ following a successful prosecution by the local authority for irregular attendance or breach of a school attendance order.

Parenting orders consist of 2 elements:

  • A requirement for parents to attend counselling or guidance sessions (e.g. parenting education or parenting support classes) where they will receive help and support to enable them to improve their child’s behaviour. This is the core of the parenting order and lasts for up to 3 months; and
  • A requirement for parents to comply with such requirements as is specified in the order. This element can last up to 12 months. All parenting orders must be supervised by a ‘responsible officer’ from the school (behaviour orders only) or local authority. They are individually named in the parenting order.

Any breach by parents without a reasonable excuse could lead to a fine of up to £1,000. The police may enforce any breach of an order by a parent.

Parents have a right to appeal a parenting order to the Crown Court.

Children Missing from Education following an absence from school

Where a pupil has not returned to school for ten days after an authorised absence or is absent from school without authorisation for twenty consecutive school days, the pupil can be removed from the admission register when the  school and the Local Authority have failed, after jointly making reasonable enquiries, to establish the whereabouts of the pupil. This only applies if the school does not have reasonable grounds to believe that the pupil is unable to attend because of sickness or unavoidable cause.

How attendance affects chances of success

It is a well known fact that the better the attendance, the more likely pupils will gain good GCSEs.

The table shows that pupils who miss school regularly have much less chance of gaining good GCSEs, as they will fall behind due to the number of lessons they miss.