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Our Wessex family of schools



Over the last 3 years, attendance in schools across the country have been affected by the pandemic in so many ways: from lockdowns to children and families isolating when they tested positive. We know that, for some children attending school has become more challenging since the pandemic as their anxiety has increased. We also know that, for some children, attendance is always difficult due to their additional needs. 

However, the information from the Department of Education, Ofsted and Dorset Local Authority is that attendance in school is much lower than it used to be before the pandemic and there are so many more persistent absences that we need to improve. This is a national issue but it also a school issue. 

Children are persistently absent when their attendance is less than 90%. This is when attendance is a cause for concern and when schools and families need to work together to improve the child’s attendance. 


Why does attendance matter? 

All research shows that attendance matters. 

It matters academically: children who miss learning find it more difficult to learn as they’ve missed chunks of learning or miss new content when it is taught. They can then not want to come to school because learning becomes more and more difficult. 

It matters socially: ask most children and friendships and playing with their friends are the most important part of school! Children that are not in school miss playing with their friends and their friends miss them. Children with poor attendance often find friendships difficult. Their friends make new friends and new relationships when they are not in school. 

It matters emotionally: relationships are the cornerstone to feeling happy in school. The more a child is in school, the more a child builds these relationships with staff and other pupils. 

It matters to us: we want all children to be at school each day and we miss them when they are not in school. 

What affects attendance figures? 

Any absence affects attendance. In particular the following all counts towards absence:

  • Illness: this is an authorised absence but will still count towards absence figures. 
  • Unauthorised absences: this includes children being off school but parents have not let us know why they are not in school. Holidays in school term are also an unauthorised absence. 
  • Being late: if children arrive in school after registration has finished, they are classified as late. This would mean an absence of ½ day towards attendance figures. Many children also find it difficult being late. It is much harder to walk into a classroom when all children are already settled and part way through their learning. 


Whose responsibility is it to improve attendance? 

As a parent it is your legal responsibility to ensure your child receives a suitable full-time education. It is your responsibility that your child attends school each day and is on time. 

However, we want to work together to improve your child’s attendance if it is below 90% or close to 90% and in danger of falling into being a persistent absence (less than 90%). We want to know if you are struggling getting your child into school and how we can work together to improve this. 


How does attendance affect progress? 

Attendance below 95% can adversely affect the academic progress of your child, and limit their social development, as they have reduced access to activities that promote this. There is a direct correlation between excellent attendance and pupil outcomes. Those pupils who have 95% and better attendance make significantly better progress. Those pupils with under 95% attendance do not make as much progress as those with similar abilities across the country, while those with 80% attendance make significantly less progress than those of similar ability across the country. A study in 2016 reveals the link between attendance and attainment. It found that children with attendance of between 95-100% attendance had an 88% chance of achieving the expected standard of attainment at the end of primary school, whereas a child with 85-90% attendance had a lower – 70% - chance of achieving this level. If attendance averages fall to at or below 75% (one day off in four) then the chances of achieving the expected level of attainment drops to below 50/50. There are always exceptions to this, but overall the statistics really reinforce and clearly show that attendance matters. If your child is not in school, they are not learning and may get left behind.


 How can you encourage good attendance?

  •  Expect child to go to school and ensure that they know this. 
  • Ask your child about their day at school and talk about what they might be doing in the future at school.
  • Be consistent with the school’s expectations and messages about school; children need to see that we are together.
  • Approach the school earlier rather than later if you have issues with attendance.

NHS school advice is as it was – coughs and colds send your child in… high temperature (above 38), vomiting or diarrhoea, keep your child off. For more information visit the NHS guide


Further  Attendance Information: 



Holidays in term time will not be authorised. Requests for absence may be authorised if there are exceptional circumstances, but the length of time authorised is likely to be limited. Parents of children found to have been on holiday when either authorisation had not been granted or permission not sought will be liable for a Penalty Notice (fine) issued by the  Local Authority. The responsibility is on parents to prove that your child was not on holiday. No form of absence immediately before or after a school holiday or a family holiday will be authorised, unless evidence is provided of genuine and exceptional reasons for absence. Unauthorised absence could result in penalty notices being issued by the Local authority. We understand that our families with relatives or business abroad may need to go away for a longer period but we ask that you do this during the school holidays – there are 13 weeks in a year to do this which do not interfere with a child attending school. We appreciate parents trying to combine leave from school with the school holidays. 


Requests for absence in exceptional circumstances:

The decision to authorise an absence due to exceptional circumstances will be based on the individual facts and circumstances and considered on a case by case basis by the Head of school. Where an exceptional circumstance forms part of a longer absence, only the exceptional circumstance element will be authorised. Examples of circumstances that would be considered on a case by case basis include weddings and funerals of close family members; visits to the consulate; legal matters which require in-person attendance in the person’s home country. Written proof of this requirement will need to be provided to the school for the leave to be considered for authorisation. Absence for religious observance would be considered in line with The Education Act 1996 S444(3c) which defines, ‘any day exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which his/her parent belongs’. In addition, absence to participate in sporting or creative activities operating at a high standard of achievement would be considered, but authorised absence would be limited within any school year, and suitable documentary evidence would be required. 


Absence for illness

 Our school ‘Sickness – Managing absence and infection control’ webpage advises that if your child has no temperature, but has a cough, cold, headache or earache, then as with adults, the medical advice is to give them suitable pain relief/medication and send them to school. We will always contact you if your child’s condition worsens, or if we believe their illness is contagious, such as chicken pox, vomiting, etc. Please refer to the school website for further information. If your child has been ill in the night and has had broken sleep, please consider sending them into school with a note to the teacher, or better still, speak to them. Your child may feel better and they will have the chance to continue with their learning. In our experience, children in almost all cases feel better when they are 5 minutes into the school day and busy in their learning activities. 


Ongoing medical absence

 Please note regulations for schools give the Headteacher the right to consider whether to accept the parents’ position with regard to medical absence – and may decide to unauthorise these absences. For ongoing conditions that prevent a pupil attending school, it will be necessary for us to request medical evidence which advises that the pupil is unfit to attend. This must also state how long this will be for. Please note that the Education Act 1996 places the responsibility on parents to provide medical evidence when requested by the school. Absent, but able to learn If your child is absent due to a long term or contagious illness but is able to work at times, please contact the school to request work. We use Google Classroom and may be able to offer live lessons and work to do at home. 



 Medical and dental appointments should be made outside of the school day whenever possible. If taken in the school day, when possible, come in and register before attending an appointment and return to school following an appointment. We will only authorise a maximum of half a day for a single urgent medical appointment and evidence will be requested in the form of an appointment confirmation message by text, letter, booking slip or similar. There are exceptions to this if a pupil is having longer or specialist medical treatment. Please be aware that the absence or illness of a child should not affect the education of their siblings. If a child has an appointment (particularly at the beginning or end of the school day) arrangements should be made to ensure that the other sibling is either dropped off or collected on time. Remember to contact the school for any absence explaining the reason and this should be reported on the first day of absence. Parents must also call in every day that their child is absent unless agreed with the office. 


Persistent absence 

A persistent absentee is defined as child with attendance below 90%. This can happen for a variety of reasons and an extended leave of absence from school can have a profound impact on a child’s overall attendance percentage. For example, a two-week leave of absence may take the majority of a year to reach a point where we are above 90%. 


Another concerning pattern of absence could look like this example, totalling 18 days of absence in the school year. This may not seem like much, but if this were to continue for seven years of primary school, then the child would miss the equivalent of over well over half of a school year. We monitor each pupil’s attendance very closely, and especially those who are at risk of falling into the category of ‘persistent absentee (<90%). When a pupil’s attendance falls below 95% we will talk to you about your child’s attendance and if there is anything we can do to work together to improve it. If attendance falls further and/or is lower than 90%, we will arrange a meeting in school to discuss the circumstances behind the low attendance and to share our concerns.


Please visti our policy page to view our attendance policy and procedure to see how we work with families whose children are persistently absent.


The most important thing – as always at Manor Park First School  – is that we work together. At every stage it is imperative that parents ensure that there are good lines of communication with the school. We will endeavour to provide support, and strategies for parents who are willing to engage. Please contact the school to request assistance if required.



Being punctual for school is as important as good attendance. Arrival after the closure of the register will be regarded as unauthorised absence and as above, this may result in meetings or even penalty notices.