School attendance

school attendance montage

Going to school regularly is key to children doing well. It sets them up with good routines for later life and gives them the opportunity to:

  • make new friends and feel included
  • learn new things and develop new skills
  • increase confidence and self-esteem
  • improve their social skills
  • achieve their full potential

Missing school has a huge impact on how a pupil gets on. The more school a child misses, the harder it is for them to get back into a routine and to catch up on missed work. Research has shown it can also lead to:

  • physical and emotional harm
  • exploitation
  • getting involved in crime and anti-social behaviour

90% attendance - Jack's story

Jack is a child with a 90% attendance rate. His mum and dad think this is quite good and are surprised when they're told he is considered to be "persistently absent".

90% attendance means that, on average, Jack has missed one half-day of school per week.

Image showing one half-day per week missed

Over a whole school year Jack would miss four weeks of lessons. He would also spend more time away from school over the year than in school:

365 days in a year, 171 days spent in school, 194 days spent out of school

If his attendance for all the years he went to school was 90% he would miss 209 days of school - that's more than a whole school year.

Tips for good attendance

  • Talk to your child about the importance of going to school every day
  • Take an interest in their school work, including helping with homework and attending parents’ evenings. If they know it matters to you it will matter to them.
  • Have set times for going to bed and waking up so your child gets plenty of sleep and is up in good time to get to school on time.
  • Stop using electronic devices one hour before bedtime. 
  • Have clothes and school bag ready the night before.
  • Only let your child stay home if they are genuinely ill.
  • If your child doesn’t want to go to school, find out why and work with your school and child to try to sort out the problem.
  • Celebrate your child’s achievements at school and their good attendance.
  • Try to book doctor, dentist, and other appointments after school hours.
  • Book holidays in the school holidays, not term time.
  • If you need help, ask for it. Speak to your school or contact Bradford Council's attendance team on or call 01274 435743.

What about lateness?

When a child arrives late to school it can be very disruptive to the child, the teacher and other children in the class. The child will be marked as late on the register.

If the child arrives very late, the child will be marked as an "Unauthorised Late" - This is the same as an Unauthorised Absence.

Unauthorised absence and the law

Once a child is registered at a school, the law says their parent or carer must send them to school every day and on time, unless the headteacher has authorised an absence.

Examples of an authorised absence could include:

  • Genuine illness of the pupil
  • Hospital/dental etc. appointment for the pupil that can't be made out of school hours
  • Death of a near relative
  • Religious observance (faith of the parents/carers)

Unauthorised absences could include:

  • shopping trips
  • a birthday treat
  • oversleeping
  • looking after other children
  • health of the parent/carer
  • family holidays - see here for more information

Unauthorised absences mean the parent could receive a warning notice, a fine, or be prosecuted. Visit Bradford council's attendance webpage for more details.

Support for you

Every parent struggles at some point. If you're having difficulties with your child that are affecting their school attendance, it's really important that you talk to your child’s school.  The school will work with you and support you to make sure your child goes to school regularly and on time. They can:

  • visit you at home or make time to see you at school
  • talk to you about all the problems that may be making it difficult for your child to attend school
  • help you to deal with the difficulties which stop your child from going to school regularly
  • put you in touch with other services, if you need more advice or support.
  • they may work with you to complete an Early Help Assessment
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