Good school attendance is one of the main factors in determining your child's future and opportunities in life. Children who are absent from school regularly do less well in achieving their academic potential and have fewer career choices. Ealing local education authority aims for all pupils to attend at least 95% of the school year.

It is important that your child develops good attendance habits from the beginning of primary school. In Ealing we know that children who have below average attendance at primary school:

  • do less well in SATS and GCSE exams
  • can have difficulty in making and keeping reliable friends
  • may have difficulties with school work
  • can develop behavioural problems in and out of school
  • are more likely to truant or drop out
  • have less opportunities for further education and employment
  • find it more difficult to find and keep a job
  • are more likely to be involved with the police

What parents can do

If you are a parent, it is your responsibility to:

  • avoid unnecessary absences such as treats for birthdays etc
  • arrange medical/dental appointments for after school (if this is not possible, avoid keeping your child off school for the whole day)
  • shop for clothes and shoes at the weekend, not during school time
  • inform the school on the first morning if your child is ill and send a note explaining the absence on your child's return to school
  • if you think something is wrong eg your child complains of feeling ill frequently, or bullying, contact the teacher and make an appointment to discuss your concerns

How you can help:

  • set up good evening and morning routines so that your child arrives alert and ready to learn
  • make sure your child arrives on time - late arrivals are disruptive
  • take an active interest in your child's school and homework
  • attend parent and curriculum evenings

Family holidays

Family holidays should be taken during school holidays. Families may be tempted by cheaper holiday offers in term time, or they may wish to spend time away in the country where they have family ties or cultural roots.

There is no legal entitlement to time off for holidays during the academic year. If you believe you have special circumstances you must seek permission from your school in advance. The headteacher may authorise up to 10 days absences depending on circumstances, timing and attendance record.

Holidays during term time should be avoided at all costs, particularly:

  • in exam or SATS years (ie years 2, 6, 9 and 11)
  • any time of the year prior to exams or tests
  • in September - when your child will be settling in with a new teacher, class or school

You must follow the school's procedures, including filling in an application form. If you do not follow procedures and have the absence authorised you may lose your child's place at the school.

The role of the local authority (LA)

Through the education social work service, the LA must enforce the legal duty of parents to ensure the regular attendance of registered pupils at the school.

Every primary school in the borough has an education social worker (ESW) who visits the school regularly. High schools in Ealing have their own ESW based in school. The ESW inspects the registers and contacts parents when concerns about attendance have not been resolved between the school and the parents.

The ESW can help you and your child where there are difficulties. However, where attendance remains low, parents or carers could face legal action.

The law

Under the law, parents have a duty to ensure that their children are properly educated. When your child is registered at a school, parents or guardians must ensure the regular and full time attendance of their child. Unauthorised absence is a criminal offence. Conviction carries a maximum £2,500 fine or imprisonment.

Education social work service
Perceval House, 14-16 Uxbridge Road, Ealing W5 2HL 
Tel: (020) 8825 5040
Fax: (020) 8825 5454