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Good Attendance

Good attendance at school is not just valuable, it’s essential. Going to school is directly linked to improved exam performance which should in turn lead to further learning opportunities and better job prospects. As well as this, going to school helps to develop:

  • friendships
  • social skills
  • team values
  • life skills
  • cultural awareness
  • career pathways

How does the school monitor attendance?

All schools must record details of pupils’ attendance and absence at school. They do this at the beginning of morning and afternoon sessions meaning that each day your child receives two half day marks.

If your child is going to be absent from school, for example for an unavoidable appointment, then you should let the school know as soon as possible. If your child has been absent due to an unexpected event such as bereavement or illness then you must also let the school know on the first day of absence in line with the school’s attendance policy.

The school will then record the absence. If you fail to tell the school as to why your child has not been present then the school may record that period of absence as being unauthorised.

The Education Welfare Service (EWS) has access to all attendance information for each pupil and if your child is missing school without good reason, schools and the EA have the authority to find out why.

Attendance in figures

Schools will advise parents of a child's attendance levels at least once a year, although attendance of pupils is checked much more regularly than this. This will usually include a percentage attendance figure.

Achieving 90 per cent in an exam or test is a fantastic result but if your child is at school for only 90 per cent of the school year then they will have missed 19 days - almost four whole weeks of school.

For primary-age children, this can mean almost 120 guided learning hours. This is a big gap for any child to make up.

You will receive a phonecall as soon as your child's attendance drops below 95%.

Your legal responsibilities

By law, all children of school age (aged four to sixteen) must receive a suitable full-time education.

Once your child is registered at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure they go regularly. 

How to prevent your child from missing school

You can help prevent your child missing school by:

  • having a routine from an early age and sticking it to it
  • making sure your child understands the importance of good attendance and punctuality
  • making sure they understand the possible implications for themselves and you as a parent if they don't go to school
  • taking an interest in their education - ask about school work and encourage them to get involved in school activities
  • discussing any problems they may have at school and letting their teacher or principal know about anything that is causing concern
  • not letting them take time off school for minor ailments or holidays during term time

To avoid disrupting your child's education, you should arrange (as far as possible), appointments and outings:

  • after school hours
  • at weekends
  • during school holidays


Term time holidays

Term time holidays have been increasing over the last number of years. Parents should make every effort to make sure that their child does not miss school due to holiday plans. Schools are not obliged to agree to you taking your child on holiday during term time. They are entitled to record such holidays as being an unauthorised absence and you place yourself at being fined or prosecuted for poor attendance.

Is my child well enough?

Is my child well enough?


High temperature: If your child looks or feels shivery or is unusually hot or cold, he or she may have a high temperature. There may be various reasons for this. A child with a high temperature should not be in school. However, after feeling and looking better for 24 hours, a child should be able to return to school.


Cold and cough: A slight cold and a cough do not disable a child from attending school. However children with heavy colds or persistent coughs should stay at home. A child whose cough is disappearing and who is feeling better should return to school.  You can come to the school office at lunchtime and administer Calpol/medicine to your child if you send them into school.

Sore throat: A child with a slight sore throat and no other symptoms is fit to go to school. A sore throat with a high temperature is an indication that the child should stay at home.

Rashes: Please do not send a child to school with an unexplained rash or skin eruption until you have consulted your doctor to attend school. The rash or spots may cover the entire body or appear in only one area.

Minor aches and pains: A child with persistent toothache should see a dentist without delay and one with earache should see a doctor without delay. A child whose only complaint is a minor headache does not usually need to be kept at home.  Appointments should be made outside of school hours.

Vomiting and diarrhoea: If vomiting occurs, your child should stay at home for 48 hours and until they can keep food down. A child with diarrhoea should also be kept at home for 48 hours. Consult your doctor if your child does not improve as you would expect.

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