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School Attendance

Being in school is important for many reasons.

A child becomes of compulsory school age when they reach the age of five and, where a parent has elected to register their child at school, they must start school in the term following their fifth birthday at the latest (although parents of many children choose to send them earlier). A child continues to be of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June in the school year that they reach the age of 16. After this age, the legal requirement to participate in education or training will fall to the young person.

Sunderland City Council has a legal obligation to provide education for all children and enforce the law relating to school attendance. This legal obligation is discharged by Attendance. Their prime role is to promote and enforce regular school attendance through advice and support to schools, pupils and their families. Their ultimate aim is to ensure every pupil has the opportunity to enjoy school, and achieve as much as they can from their school experience. To enable them to improve their chances in adult life when they enter the world of work; there is clear evidence of a link between poor attendance at school and low levels of achievement

Parents/carers have a duty to ensure that children of compulsory school age receive a suitable education either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. Whatever the reason, pupils who are absent for 10% or more school days are classed as persistent absentees. Only your child's school can authorise an absence. If your child has an unacceptable level of attendance at school, which the school can't resolve, the school may refer your child to Attendance

The current law does not give any entitlement to parents to take their child on leave during term time.  Any application for leave must be in exceptional circumstances and the head teacher must be satisfied that the circumstances warrant the granting of leave. These circumstances will be determined by your child's school. You must allow enough time for the head teacher to consider your request before leave is taken. It is possible that the head teacher may refuse permission. Parents can be issued with a penalty notice or prosecuted for periods of unauthorised holidays.

Remember if your child is not in school:

  • they may be absent without your knowledge
  • they may be at risk
  • they are missing out on their education
  • if your child misses two weeks of school every year, it will mean they miss more than half a year of their education by the time they leave school
  • you may be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (the penalty is £60 per parent per child) or prosecuted by the Local Authority in the Magistrates' Court and fined up to £1,000. If it is proved you knew of your child's non-attendance and failed without reasonable justification to ensure regular attendance, a fine of up to £2,500 and/or a term of imprisonment may be imposed by the court.
  • the court also has the power to direct a Parenting Order requiring your attendance at counselling/guidance sessions and specifying other appropriate action by you as directed by Attendance

Good attendance at school is the single most important factor in ensuring that children and young people have the best opportunities in adult life.

How can you help:

  • · Make sure your child arrives at school on time, every day. If they are late and miss the register, it may be recorded as an unauthorised absence.
  • · Show an interest, attend school events and ask about what your child is doing at school.
  • · Encourage your child to tell you about any problems they may have at school. Find out regularly your child's attendance and absence record.
  • · Encourage your child to take part in school activities.
  • · If your child is ill inform the school on the first day of absence. Don't let your child take time off school for minor ailments.
  • · Where possible, make appointments after school, at weekends or during school holidays. Remember, a morning appointment does not mean a whole day of absence. Return your child back to school in the afternoon.
  • · Don't take children on visits, shopping trips or holidays or other trips during school time.
  • · Attend Parent Evenings

Download our Information for Parents and Carers.

For further information please contact the Attendance team on 0191 561 5601 or 561 5817.

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