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School attendance and absence

School attendance and absence

The better your child’s attendance the better they should do educationally. Research shows that children who attend school regularly are likely to be more successful. The current average attendance for pupils’ in Wokingham schools is 94 percent (2011/12)

General guidance

  • Make yourself aware of school attendance policy, rules and routines
  • Get into a routine of daily school attendance as soon as your child starts school
  • Be on time for morning registration
  • Inform school on the first day of illness
  • Whenever possible arrange dentist and non-urgent medical appointments outside school times
  • Show an interest in your child’s work and maintain contact with school
  • Speak to school in the first instance if you or your child have any concerns about school
  • Request permission in advance from school if you have an exceptional reason for an absence
  • For older pupils at secondary school check attendance with school and know where they are in case there is a safeguarding issue

Unacceptable reasons for absence from school include:

  • Shopping trips
  • Birthdays
  • Non urgent medical and dental appointments

Holidays in term time

The Department for Education policy guidance to schools as of September 2013 is that holidays in term time should only be authorised if there are "exceptional" circumstances.  

The school Headteacher will determine whether the circumstances are exceptional or not. Please note that there is no automatic right to take a holiday in term time.

Not only will a pupil miss important school time it will be difficult for them to catch up on work later on. A pupil with 10 days absence in a school year will only achieve 95 percent attendance and over their statutory school lifetime the pupil will miss over half a year’s education.

Should you feel that you have “exceptional” reasons for applying, please contact your child’s school at the earliest opportunity and use the appropriate school form. Whilst the cost of a holiday might be an issue it is not considered to be sufficient to be an exceptional reason. 

Please be aware that unauthorised holiday absence of 5 days or more can now result in the issuing of a Penalty Notice which carries a fine of £60 or if not paid after 21 days the fine is doubled to £120 and court prosecution if unpaid after 28 days. Penalty Notices are served per parent per child.

Penalty notices

Parents have a legal duty to ensure their children receive an education.

The 1996 Education Act states that:

“the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable:

  • to his or her age, ability and aptitude
  • to any special educational needs he may have , either by regular school attendance or otherwise

Failure to do so may result in prosecution in the magistrate’s court and can lead to one of the following: 

  • fines of up to £2,500
  • 3 months imprisonment 
  • a parenting order 
  •  a Penalty Notice which results in a £60 fine if paid within 21 days or £120 if paid after 22-28 days or prosecution if unpaid

Read our Penalty Notice Code of Conduct (PDF document)

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