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Great Binfields
Primary School

Learning Together, Achieving Forever


Good school attendance habits are best started early. Children learn from those around them and you as parents/carers set the standards and expectations for your child. Showing your child the importance of attending school every day not only helps your child to settle quickly when starting school but helps them to keep and maintain friendships and enjoy the school environment.


Be organised, have a plan, be consistent and involve your child.

You should:

  • create good routines for mornings at home so that your child can arrive punctually and they are properly equipped; this will also mean your mornings can start calmly too
  • make time to encourage and show interest. Chat to them about the things they have learnt, what friends they have made and even what they had for lunch! Remember children can be tired when coming out of school, so a short chat over a snack or later that evening may produce a better result than a long list of questions
  • read all school communications. A home/school diary can help with communication only when all parties use it as intended
  • attend school open evenings and functions
  • check your child understands the homework and that it has been completed. Support them in completing homework by creating a calm space for them to work in and set specific times during the week when homework should be done
  • avoid absence from school wherever possible – try to make doctors and dental appointments out of school hours. Absence means your child will miss out on the academic studies and will also learn that education is not the main priority within the family. This can have a lifelong effect.


There tend to be good reasons why children become reluctant to attend school. Take the time to listen to your child, share any concerns you or your child may have with the appropriate member of school staff and seek support at the very earliest opportunity.


Your responsibilities as a parent/carer

By law, all children of compulsory school age (normally five to 16) must receive a suitable full-time education. As a parent, you have a legal responsibility to make sure this happens – either by registering your child at a school or by making other arrangements to give them a suitable, full-time education. Once your child is registered at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure they attend regularly. This means your child should not have sessions of unauthorised absence.


Section 576 of the Education Act 1996 defines parent as:

  • all natural parents, whether they are married or not
  • any person who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility for a child or young person
  • any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person

Having care of a child or young person means that a person with whom the child lives and who looks after the child,

irrespective of what their relationship is with the child, is considered to be a parent in education law.


Recording your child’s attendance

Schools must take an attendance register twice a day, which is a legal document that is kept for five years. Any absences will be recorded with a specific code depending on the type of absence. Absences fall into two main categories:

  • authorised – those which schools can give you permission for
  • unauthorised – those which they will not


Examples of absences which the school is unlikely to authorise can include:

  • sickness of a parent, or other family member
  • inadequate clothing for school
  • child being used as a carer
  • problems with transport
  • non-urgent medical treatment
  • school refusal or truancy
  • days off for birthdays, shopping trips
  • family holiday since new regulations came in September 2013

If your child needs a leave of absence you must ask for permission in advance. The headteacher can only approve the absence if he/she views them to be exceptional reasons. The headteacher also decides on the number of days to authorise or unauthorise. You can request a leave of absence form from your school.


What do I do if my child is unwell?

As a parent/carer you should notify the school on the first day your child is unable to attend due to illness. It is vitally important you also call each day thereafter to notify the school on whether they are likely to remain off school or return. Generally this is done by telephone and we also have an answerphone facility specifically for this purpose. Absences are authorised in the event of genuine illness. However, we may on occasion need to request that medical evidence is provided, such as a prescription or an appointment card; a note from a doctor may not be necessary. We have a right to record the absence as unauthorised if we are not satisfied that the illness is genuine. If this was the case, we would advise parents/carers in advance.


You should let us know:


  • the nature of the illness (although you may wish to talk confidentially about this)
  • whether your child has seen their GP, or whether an appointment has been made for some other specialist service
  • how long you expect your child to be absent from school
  • the prognosis for the child’s recovery


For absences that are expected to last up to 15 school days and that are not part of a pattern of a recurring illness, the parents/carers should discuss with the school whether they are willing to organise for work and homework to be set as soon as the child is able to cope with it. The school should also agree with you how completed work will be collected, marked and returned.


Longer absence through illness, injury or medical condition

If absence is long-term or repeated, we may request proof that your child is genuinely unwell and unable to attend school as this is a key part of their safeguarding duties. Keep copies of any appointment letters or medical reports.

If your child:

  • has a long term or chronic condition, and is expected to be absent from school for a longer period
  • has intermittent attendance due to an illness (such as epilepsy or sickle cell anaemia)
  • is going to be absent from school for a period of therapy or surgery

we may want to draw up a support plan with you, and consider whether to refer your child to our specialist services.


Education for pupils who are unable to attend school because of medical needs can be provided for in the following ways:

  • children who are in-patients of most hospitals will be taught through the in hospital teaching service
  • children who are not in-patients, may receive home tutoring organised via the Education Inclusion Support Service and a local education centre

Children who are admitted to NHS hospitals (including psychiatric units) in other areas will receive education through local hospitals, schools or an education centre.