School attendance information for parents and carers

Why does attendance matter ?

Attending school on a regular basis is the key to  your child doing well at school and will set them up with good routines for later life and the working world , as well as giving your child the opportunity  to:

  • make lots of friends and feel included
  • learn new things and develop many skills
  • increase confidence and self esteem
  • improve social skills
  • achieve potential and fulfill aspirations.

90% attendance

Jack is a child who attends school for 90% of the time. His parents think this is quite good. Jack is absent from school for the equivalent of one half day a week.

A chart showing the days of the week split into half days. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are shaded in for both halves of the day. Friday is only shaded for half a day. This is 90% attendance.

Over a whole school year Jack would miss four weeks of lessons . Jack would also spend more time away from school over the year than in school!

Days in a year Days spent in school Days spent out of school
365 171 194

If Jack's attendance for his whole time at school was 90% he would have missed 209 days of school, that's a whole school year!

Note: When "parent" is referred to on this page, we are referring to parents and carers.

When your child is absent

By law, schools must record absences and the reasons given.

Only the Headteacher can officially authorise an absence, but unless there is a concern, the staff will usually do this on their behalf. Parents should provide reasons for absences and the school must decide whether or not they justify authorisation according to Government guidelines.

Authorised absences

  • Genuine illness of the pupil
  • Hospital or dental appointment for the pupil
  • Death of a near relative
  • Religious observance (faith of the parents or carers )

Unauthorised absences

  • A shopping trip
  • A birthday treat
  • Oversleeping due to a late night
  • Looking after other children
  • Letting the gas man in, etc
  • The parent or carer is unwell 

Whenever a child is absent from school the parent should

  • Contact the school as soon as possible on the first day of absence. If no notification of absence is received, the school office will contact the parents to ascertain the reason.
  • Where possible let the school know in advance of any planned absences, for example hospital appointments.
  • Where possible make medical or dental appointments out of school hours.

Term time leave

Family holidays should take place during the school holiday dates. These are published a year in advance. Please be mindful that absence due to a leave during term time is not, and never has been a parent's entitlement.

If leave during term time cannot be avoided, a leave request form should be completed. These can be obtained from the school office. The Headteacher will then decide whether or not to authorise this absence . Headteachers can only authorise leave during term time if "exceptional circumstances" exist, even if your child has an excellent attendance record or if you believe that the reason for the absence is justified.

Arriving late to school

When a child arrives late to school it can be very disruptive to your child, the teacher and other children in the class. If your child arrives late to school they will be marked as late on the register. If your child arrives very late, the child will be marked as an "Unauthorised Late" - This is the same as an Unauthorised Absence.

Absence and the law

As a parent you are committing an offence if you fail to make sure that your child attends regularly, even if they are missing school without your knowledge. The details of Parents with children who have unauthorised absence (including those who have taken unauthorised leave during term time) will be passed to Bradford Council , who could consider issuing a Penalty Notice or starting legal action.  

Improving attendance = improving outcomes

Bradford Council is committed to providing all children with the best start in life and works hard to ensure that all children in Bradford attend school regularly.

Reducing absence from school is a key priority both for Bradford and the Government. The majority of parents in Bradford ensure that their children attend school regularly.

Our Attendance and Prosecution Teams act on behalf of the council in enforcing a parent's duty to ensure regular school attendance.

Officers work closely with schools and families to resolve issues of poor attendance. They support children and families when pupils are experiencing difficulties in school or issues are disrupting a child's education.

The teams also provides support and advice to schools in developing strategies to improve pupil attendance.