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Matthew Arnold Primary School and Granby & Dingle Children's Centre

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Absence = Lost Learning


At Matthew Arnold we believe that a good education gives children opportunities for life. A good education starts with good attendance.  High levels of school attendance are essential to ensure that your child can fulfil their potential.  All children need to attend school regularly to benefit from their education; missing out on lessons leaves pupils vulnerable to falling behind and achieving less.


Attendance is important in every year group; in early years children learn the foundations for all of their future learning, and every year children learn more, building their knowledge and understanding.



If your child cannot come to school you must:

  • Phone the school before 9.00am, or as soon as practically possible, to let us know that your child will be off and why.
  • If your child has an appointment and will be off for part of the day you can show us the letter or appointment card.
  • If you do not contact school on the first day of absence we will try to contact you, this may include coming out to your house.
  • If you do not provide school with a reason for absence it will be marked as unauthorised.



Everyday staff check who is absent and follow routine procedures.

  • If you have not informed school about your child’s absence, we will try to contact you. We will phone and may make a home visit to try and find out why your child is absent.
  • If you have told school why your child is absent but they are off school for a number of days school may phone to check on how they are. We may also make a home welfare visit to see how they are.
  • School record all reasons for absence.




School has a statutory responsibility to record and monitor the punctuality and attendance of pupils.


  • The start of the school day is 8.50am. The class teacher will take a register recording who is present and absent from 8.50am. At 9.00am the register will be returned to the school office.
  • Any late pupils should enter the school through the main entrance. If any pupil arrives late, the office staff will record details in a late book. The record should show name of the pupil, class and time. The register officially closes at 9.30am any pupil arriving after this time will be marked absent for this session. A reason for the lateness will need to be provided and a decision made by the school to mark it as an authorised or unauthorised absence.
  • All registers are monitored daily each morning for absences. If your child is absent with no reason recorded, our Attendance Officer will contact families (First Day Response) to ascertain information with regards to the absence.
  • If parents/carers do not get in contact with school, the office will follow this up with phone calls from 9.45am. This will ensure all calls are made and complete by 10.00
  • The afternoon session starts at 1.00pm. The register will be taken again and must be returned to the office by 1.15pm.
  • Reasons for absence will be recorded using the Department for Education’s attendance codes.



  • Government rule about taking holidays in school time are increasingly strict. School is unable to authorise any holidays requested during school time. If children are absent from school due to holidays their absence will be recorded as unauthorised absence.
  • It is likely that parents/carers will receive a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice) from the council if they take their children on holiday during term time.



Attendance is counted in sessions. The school day is made up of two sessions, the morning and the afternoon. If a child is absent in the morning but comes into school in the afternoon they have missed one session, if they are absent for the whole day they have missed two sessions.



This is when the school authorises an absence because they agree that the reason is acceptable, for example:

  • Illness severe enough to prevent the child coming to school
  • Exceptional family circumstances
  • Part of the day being missed for an essential medical appointment – routine check ups should not be done in school time.



This is when the school has not allowed the absences because the reason is not acceptable, for example:

  • Taking a whole day off school for a medical appointment
  • Minor illnesses or very frequent absence due to minor illness unless backed up with a medical note
  • Holidays
  • Birthdays or day trips
  • Being tired
  • Shopping



If a child comes to school after registration period closes at 9.30am they are considered so late that they will lose their morning mark. This type of absence is automatically an unauthorised absence.



  • This is the group of children that schools and the council must particularly concentrate on because their attendance is poor. The Department for Education refers to a Persistent Absentee as pupils who have an attendance below 90%.
  • Persistent absenteeism is monitored weekly and children who have missed a certain number of sessions (half days) will be considered at risk of becoming persistent absentees by the end of the school year.
  • Persistent absence is monitored throughout the year and the names of children missing a high level of school time (regardless of the reason for absence) are collected by the Department for Education each half term.
  • Even if an absence is authorised it is still an absence and will count towards a final figure at the end of the year.
  • Persistent Absenteeism can result in Fixed Penalty Notice warnings and fines or legal action.



We know that sometimes children need urgent appointments, or parents/carers are given very little choice about the times for hospital appointments. However, most appointments are routine, e.g. dental check ups, non urgent GP appointments. A lot of school time is missed due to routine medical appointments that could be arranged for a different time. While we understand that it can be hard to get appointments, we encourage parents/carers to make appointments outside of school time, or at least at the very beginning or end of the school day so children miss the least amount of time.