Top Tips for Improving School Attendance

Sara Spinks 8 January 2024 2 min read

It's really important that your child goes to school regularly because it helps them learn, stay healthy, and grow overall. These helpful tips lay out what you, as a parent, need to do and how schools and local authorities can team up to make sure your child attends regularly:

1. Parental responsibilities for school attendance

As a parent, you're legally responsible for making sure your child gets a good full-time education. You need to know when it's okay for your child to miss school. These occasions include where your child is too ill to attend or have a special reason such as a religious day or a pre-arranged special reason approved by the school.

2. Telling the school of an absence

If your child needs to miss school, tell the school as soon as possible on the morning of the absence. Follow the school's procedures for taking time off, share the details, and get their approval. Schools need to know on the first day so they can be sure that your child is safe.

3. How to handle short-term illness

The NHS guidelines can really help you to decide whether your child is too ill for school or not. As above, let the school of illness quickly, and if the illness continues, work with the school to explore support options.

4. Medical Evidence

Usually, you don't need a doctor's note for sick days. But keep papers handy just in case the school asks.

5. Managing Appointments

Plan doctor or dentist visits outside school hours if you can. If it has to be during school, let them know early and try not to mess up your child's day too much, such as make the appointments as early or late in the school day so they can attend as much of the day as possible.

6. Addressing School-related Issues

If your child struggles due to issues at school, make sure you talk with the school as quickly as possible. Work together with the school to find solutions, agree on joint actions, and, if support services offered, be ready to accept their help.

7. Support for Long-term Illness or Special Educational Needs

For children with long-term illnesses or special needs, work closely with the school to set up any reasonable adjustments needed to help your child. Schools are expected to provide necessary support and work with other relevant services to make the best plan to meet your child’s needs.

8. Managing Anxiety

If your child is anxious about attending school, talk and work with the school about what can be put in place. It’s important to avoid unauthorised absence. Seek advice from organisations like Young Minds. It is really important to try to find the root causes and get appropriate support.

9. Look for Other School Options

If your child's current school placement is not suitable or issues continue to be unsolved, explore other school options with your child’s school as well as the local authority. Apply for different schools if you feel that this may help your child, but make sure you keep your child in their current school until a new school is found.

10. Legal Implications and Support

It is important to understand that there are legal consequences if your child has continued absences which are not approved by the school. These are called ‘persistent unauthorised absences’. To avoid any legal action, it is important that parents work with the school and local authority, engage in any offered support programs, and make sure that your child's education attendance is prioritised.

Sara Spinks

SSS Author & Former Headteacher

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