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School attendance expectations

Find information on school attendance and truancy.

Your responsibility for your child’s attendance

If you are the parent or carer of a child between the ages of five and 16, you are legally responsible for making sure they get suitable, full-time education. This can be through regular attendance at school or alternative provision.

How we calculate attendance

Schools count each school day as two sessions, one morning and one afternoon, making a total of 10 sessions over a full school week. Children must attend all 10 sessions each week to achieve 100% attendance.

If a child does not attend school their attendance is reduced by 10% for each session missed. For example, if a child has a half-day absence in a full school week they will have attended nine sessions out of 10. This means they will achieve 90% attendance. If a child is absent for a whole week, their attendance is 0%. Schools will then calculate each child’s attendance over a whole term.

If your child keeps missing school

We expect your child to attend school every day and to be on time, but we understand there may be exceptional reasons for them to miss school.

Children who attend school for less than 90% are considered to be ‘persistently absent’. These children are absent from school half a day each week, on average, and this will have a negative effect on their education and ability to catch up on the work missed.

How to improve your child’s attendance

You can support your child’s regular attendance at school by making sure:

  • medical and dental appointments are outside school hours, such as during school holidays
  • your child is organised for school the night before by having their bag packed, PE kit ready, homework completed and lunch packed
  • your alarm clocks are set in good time.

Children who miss school because of family holidays can miss essential lessons. You must get holiday requests authorised before you book a holiday, otherwise you risk your child being marked as having an unauthorised absence.

We can prosecute you if:

  • your child attends less than 90% of sessions over a set period of time
  • your child is regularly late for school.

Why attendance matters

We are ambitious for all children and our aim is for them to:

  • enjoy their experience at school
  • succeed
  • have the best possible start to their adult life.

By attending school regularly, children can:

  • reach their full academic potential
  • develop and sustain relationships
  • demonstrate to future employers they are reliable
  • reduce their risk of becoming a victim of crime or abuse
  • reduce their risk of becoming involved in antisocial or criminal behaviour.

The link between irregular school attendance and poor academic achievement and limited life outcomes have been well researched.

Children may suffer anxiety, tummy aches and headaches if they are worried they will be late for school.

Useful websites


Attendance, Inclusion and Participation Service

Second Floor, Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London, SE6 4RU

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Penalty notices for school absences

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