Advice for Parents
What can you do to support your child's attendance?
- Make sure your child understands how important it is to attend school regularly and that you do not approve of him or her missing school.
- Take an active interest in your child’s schoolwork. Ask them about their day, and praise and encourage their achievements at school.
- If your child tells you they are bored with school ask to meet with their teachers.
- If your child makes excuses to try to avoid going to school, listen to them - you may find there is an underlying problem. It could be problems with schoolwork – it could be bullying.
- Make sure that your child gets to school on time. Arriving late can be disruptive for your child and the other children in the class.
There may be times when your child has to miss school:
- If your child is ill, contact the school on the first day of your child's illness. Staff will be concerned if they do not hear anything.
- If your child is ever off school, you must tell the school why. Do this by following the arrangements made by the school.
- If you want permission for your child to miss school for a special occasion such as a wedding, you should ask for permission well in advance and give full details.
Do not expect the school to authorise every absence. Shopping trips during school hours, days off for birthdays or looking after sick relatives are all examples of unacceptable reasons for absence.
Signs that your child may be truanting
- not having any homework
- not talking about school
- not bringing you any school letters or information
- having a knowledge of daytime TV
- never taking equipment to school (PE)
- putting a change of clothing in school bag
- asking you what time you will be home
- forming friendships with other young people you suspect of not attending school
- attempting to keep you away from school events.
If you suspect that your child may be missing school or is unhappy at school, you should contact the school as soon as possible so that you can work with them to resolve any difficulties. You can also contact the Children Missing Education Service if you need further advice or support.
Attendance - What does the law say?
The Law says that parents of children aged between 5-16, who are on a school roll, must make sure that their child goes to school both regularly and punctually. This means that children are in school when they should be and that they arrive at school in time for both morning and afternoon sessions.
If a child who is registered at a school fails to attend regularly and there are no legitimate reasons, then parents are guilty of an offence under section 444 of the Education Act 1996. If convicted parents will be liable to a fine of up to £2500/and or a prison sentence of up to 3 months. Magistrates may also impose a Parenting Order.
Schools are responsible for the keeping and marking of attendance registers. Schools will want to know why pupils are absent and they must decide whether the absence is for an authorised or unauthorised reason.
Schools must report poor attendance to the Children Missing Education Service (CMES), who will then work with those involved to assess the reasons for poor attendance and help find a solution to the difficulties.
Academies make their own arrangements to address poor school attendance. These arrangements could be with the Local Authority or private companies.
The Local Authority (LA)
The LA is responsible for making sure that parents fulfil their responsibilities. In Bath and North East Somerset, the CMES fulfils this role and will consider legal action where other strategies to improve attendance have failed.
In addition to prosecuting parents, the Children Missing Education Service may apply to the Family Proceedings Court for an Education Supervision Order (ESO). An ESO makes the LA responsible for certain aspects of the child's education.