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

Pupil leave of absence from school (update)

The Amendments in September 2013 to the 2006 school attendance regulations make clear that Headteacher may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.  As absence for holidays is no longer allowed, no parent can demand leave of absence for the purposes of a holiday.

Exceptional circumstances: Where leave of absence is requested for exceptional circumstances, parents should ask at the school what their procedure is; normally parents will be asked to complete an application form in good time.  The parent with whom the pupil normally resides must make the application.   Leave may only be granted where proper procedures have been followed and the permission given.  Where the school and the parents fail to reach an agreement and the child is then absent from school the absence will be marked as unauthorised. Unauthorised absences are an offence and can be liable to legal action or a fixed penalty fine.  Extended absences may put your child’s school place at risk

Emergencies: There may be emergencies when you have to leave urgently, taking children, then you should inform the school or have the school informed immediately.  Leave of absence cannot be granted retrospectively and evidence other than your word may be asked for.

  • Only a person authorised by the Governing Body of the school, usually the Headteacher or other specifically delegated staff may grant leave of absence
  • Tickets should not be booked prior to discussion with and agreement of the school.
  • Leave which is taken because of the availability of cheaper fares or other costs are not regarded as exceptional circumstances. 
  • Parents should not confuse telling the school with having permission.
  • Claims of illness as a reason for a delayed return, particularly after normal school holidays will not be considered unless accompanied by travel tickets dated before the school opens or other agreed dates.  Medical documentation from abroad will not normally be accepted unless accompanied by travel documents indicating travel dates prior to school reopening.
  • Parents are warned that if they take their child out of school without permission the Local Education Authority has the power to issue Fixed-Penalty Notices in respect of unauthorised absences.
  • Penalty notices can be issued to each parent and for each child.  The Penalty is £120 payable within 28 days, but reducing to £60 if paid within 21 days.  (Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2004).

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