There can be many reasons why a pupil does not want to attend school; the main reason is an issue surrounding school but life at home can also be a major factor.  Persistent absence from school can thrive on many mitigating circumstances. If your child has 90% or below then that is classified as ‘persistently absent’

It is important to look at all the reasons and factors that could be causing problems that prevent attending school every day.  Listening and talking with your child and communicating with the school is very important and vital in trying to resolve the difficulty.

Friendships in school are important for all children, however, friendships can also be the cause of distress and worry and can be a cause of why children refuse to attend school or say they have minor ailments.

It is important for parents & carers to have the tools to help in these matters and information is key to solving the problem.  Knowing how the school can help and support your child will help build confidence and give your child a sense of security.

Please do not be tempted to allow days off for ‘special occasions’ such as birthdays, shopping, visits to an attraction or perhaps a ‘duvet day’.  This gives the message that attending school regularly is not important and therefore education is not important. 

In extreme cases your child may be experiencing anxiety based school refusal.  Behaviours that you may see are: temper tantrums, clinging, refusal to leave bedroom/bathroom, threats and reassurance seeking.  Witnessing these behaviours can be very distressing for parents and can feel overwhelmed and alone when dealing with a child who is crying, shouting, throwing or complete withdrawal from speaking.  It is easy to see why parents allow their child to stay home from school. 

The behaviour normally starts to avoid something that is school related (subject lesson, teacher, friends, reading, public speaking, PE, drama, exam or test).  If this behaviour becomes successful in achieving its goal it then becomes reinforced and strengthened.  It good to remember that behaviour always has a goal for the individual, staying off school and remaining at home is often rewarding in itself; a very slippery slope if this happens more than once. 

The above information is only a snap shot and is not prescriptive, if you believe that your child has anxiety based behaviour that is affecting their ability to attend school regularly, please talk to your school promptly who will look at the extent and pattern of attendance and put a plan into action.  The quicker that you as a parent or carer can act the better the outcome for your child.

Please be advised that if a child of compulsory school age fails to attend regularly at a school at which they are registered, or at a place where alternative provision is provided for them, the parents may be guilty of an offence and can be prosecuted by the local authority.    

For further information on school attendance and what to do if your child is not attending regularly please contact your child’s school.

For advice and guidance on school attendance and what to do if you think a child or young person may be missing from education please contact Children Missing Education Service on 01225 394241, email


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