Why is it important for children not to miss school?

Most parents want their children to get on well in life and it is more important than ever to have a good education behind you if you want opportunities in adult life. Children only get one chance at school, and your child’s chances of a successful future may be affected by not attending school or alternative provision regularly.

If children do not attend school regularly they may:

  • Struggle to keep up with school work. In a busy school day it is difficult for schools to find the extra time to help a child catch up.
  • Miss out on the social side of school life. Poor attendance can affect children’s ability to make and keep friendships, a vital part of growing up.

Setting good attendance patterns will also help your child later on. Employers want to recruit people who are reliable. Children who have a poor school attendance record may have less chance of getting a good job.


Being on time is vital. Arriving late at school can be very disruptive for your child, the teacher and the other children in the class.

Students should arrive in school before 8.20am. Registers close at 8.35am. Any students arriving after 8.35 will be recorded as an unauthorised absence. 5 late marks after registers have closed in any 6 week period could result in a £60 fixed penalty fine or a summons to court.

What does the law say?

By law, all children of compulsory school age (between 5 and 16) must get a suitable, full-time education. As a parent, you are responsible for making sure this happens, either by registering your child at a school or by making other arrangements which provide a suitable full-time education.

Once your child is registered at a school you are responsible for making sure he or she attends regularly. If your child fails to attend regularly - even if they miss school without you knowing - the Local Authority may take legal action against you.

The Local Authority Education Welfare Department is responsible for making sure that parents fulfil their responsibility to ensure their registered children regularly attend school or any alternative provision provided. They can be contacted on 0115 8762965 or

If you think you may need to take your child out of school, discuss the reasons with us as soon as possible.

What about authorised absence?

Of course there may be times when your child has to miss school because they are ill. This is to be expected and for this you should follow the school procedure for notifying illness.

Children may also have to attend a medical or dental appointment in school time. However, you could try to make routine appointments, such as dental check ups, during the school holidays or after school hours.

Any absences must be requested as far in advance as possible and can only be authorised by the school.

Nottingham Free School treat every application for leave of absence on an individual basis; however, school will not authorise absence for the reason of a family holiday unless there are exceptional circumstances.

What happens if your child does not attend school regularly?

As a school we are responsible by law for reporting poor attendance to the Local Authority Education Welfare Department. As a parent, you are committing an offence if you fail to make sure that your child attends school regularly, even if they are missing school without your knowledge, and may be issued with a penalty notice or taken to court.

The Education Welfare Department may decide to prosecute a parent who fails to ensure that their child attends school regularly. If this happens:

  • Parents can be fined up to £2,500 or imprisoned .
  • Magistrates can also impose a parenting order, which means that the parent has to attend a counselling and guidance programme and parenting classes.

What might the impact of poor attendance be on your child?

Research has shown that children who are not in school are the most vulnerable and are easily drawn into crime. Those children who play truant are more likely to offend than those that do not. The following graph shows the link between percentage attendance and GCSE grades 9- 4. The higher the attendance percentage the higher the GCSE grade.

  • Attending school every day = 100% attendance.
  • Attending 4.5 days a week = 90% attendance = 4 weeks missed per year.
  • Attending 4 days a week = 80% attendance = more than half a term missed each year or 2 full years missed over the course of their school career.
  • Attending 3.5 days each week = 70% attendance = more than a quarter of the school year missed.

Attendance thresholds

Being late for school reduces learning time. If your child is 5 minutes late every day they will miss three days of learning each year. If your child is 15 minutes late every day they will miss 2 weeks of learning each year.

Please note: National average attendance is 95%. Therefore, Nottingham Free School will not be authorising any absence below this level without medical evidence.

The information in this flyer is based on the DfES booklet—Is Your Child Missing Out? (2007)

How do we recognise excellent attendance?

Excellent attendance is recognised and rewarded at Nottingham Free School with certificates and prizes for those students achieving 100%. We also offer a £100 prize to any student who achieves 100% attendance over their 5 year school career. We also enter students into the attendance challenge which focuses on students achieving 98+% each half term. Students earn tokens each half term which they can exchange for prizes.

Each tutor set with the highest attendance each week is able to earn flapjack for their tutor set.

We also nominate 2 students per year to receive the Lord Mayor’s Award. This recognises the achievement of city students for both attendance and attitude.

What can you do to help?

  • If you suspect that your child may be missing school or is unhappy at school, you should contact the school as soon as possible so that you can work with them to resolve any difficulties.
  • Make sure your child understands that you do not approve of them missing school, but be on the alert for any particular reasons for non-attendance, such as problems with school work and discuss these with the school.
  • If your child is ill or absent for any other reason, contact the school on every day of absence by 8.15 am on 0115 8964949.
  • If your child is attending a medical appointment during the school day, you can notify the school by emailing or writing a note in your child’s planner.
  • Make sure that your child arrives at school on time.
  • Take an interest in your child’s education.
  • Ask them about their day and praise and encourage their achievements at school.

Leave of absence

If parents need to request a leave of absence for their child during the school term please download and complete the form below.

Who to contact if you have any concerns or queries:

  • Susan Seymour & Kay Cockayne - Attendance Officers ( and
  • Kay Gray - Senior Leader (
  • Sarah Cockayne - Head of Years 10 & 11 (
  • Suzanne Detton - Head of Years 8 & 9 (
  • Lauren Wilson - Head of Year 7 (

October 2020


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