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The importance of coming to school


Coming to school every day is very important for your child.

Research has shown that children with poor attendance:

  • Find it harder to make and keep friends
  • Are less likely to gain good qualifications
  • Earn lower wages
  • Have a higher chance of being unemployed
  • Have low self-esteem

Children who miss school miss lessons. These lessons are not repeated, so children will have gaps in their learning. Additionally, often each day’s lessons build upon those of the previous day – if a child misses a lesson they can miss the foundation to subsequent lessons. Children could begin to struggle and achieve less.

Attendance is related to achievement:
The better the attendance, the better the achievement

If your child is away from school for more than 9 days a year they will not have ‘Good’ attendance. They will have missed 45 lessons!

This means your child can only miss one day every half-term to get good attendance.

  • If a child misses only one day each week, by the end of the school year they will have missed 39 days of school – thats the same as missing 8 weeks worth of lessons!
  • If they did this for two years they will have missed the equivalent of nearly half a year of school!
  • Looking ahead, 90% of young people with absence rates below 85% fail to achieve five or more good grades of GCSE and around one third achieve no GCSEs at all.
  • Further more, poor examination results limit young people’s options and poor attendance suggests to colleges and employers that these students are unreliable.


It is important from an early age to get into the habit of attending school!

Additionally, while children are absent, friendship groups are formed within school and children can feel left out when they return.

The NI Department of Education gives the following key reasons why it’s important for children to attend school:

  • To learn
  • To have fun
  • To make new friends
  • To experience new things in life
  • To develop awareness of other cultures, religion, ethnicity and gender differences
  • To achieve
  • To gain qualifications
  • To develop new skills
  • To build confidence and self-esteem
  • To have the best possible start in life

By keeping a child out of school we are stopping them experiencing and gaining these important things.

Young people who regularly miss school without good reason are more likely to become isolated from their friends, to underachieve in examinations and/or become involved in anti-social behaviour.

School attendance and the law

A child’s education is very important, so the law is strong when it comes to helping a child receive it. According to the Government, ‘local councils and schools can use various legal powers if your child is missing school without a good reason’:

  • Parenting Order
  • Education Supervision Order
  • School Attendance Order
  • penalty notice


Please note, ‘you can be given one or more of these orders but the council doesn’t have to do this before prosecuting you’.

A parenting order ‘means you have to go to parenting classes. You’ll also have to do what the court says to improve your child’s school attendance’.

‘If the council thinks you need support getting your child to go to school but you’re not co-operating, they can apply to a court for an Education Supervision Order. A supervisor will be appointed to help you get your child into education. The local council can do this instead of prosecuting you, or as well’.

‘You’ll get a School Attendance Order if the local council thinks your child isn’t getting an education’. ‘The order will require you to send your child to a specific school. If you don’t, you may be prosecuted’.

‘Instead of being prosecuted, you can be given a penalty notice. The penalty is £60, rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days. If you don’t pay the fine you may be prosecuted’.

In this context, being prosecuted means getting ‘a fine of up to £2,500, a community order or a jail sentence up to 3 months. The court also gives you a Parenting Order’.



Of course, it’s better to be late to school than to not arrive at all. However, we always encourage punctuality at school. Not only is it a good habit to learn from an early age (it will help them when they come to have a job later in life), but being on time is also important for a child because:

  • it helps them settle into the school day well, with everybody else
  • it helps them make and keep friends
  • it improves self-confidence
  • class teachers often include learning sessions during registration

In fact, by regularly arriving late, children can miss a lot of learning time!

  • Arriving 5 minutes late every day adds up to 3 days lost each year
  • Arriving 15 minutes late every day is the same as being absent for nearly 2 weeks a year
  • Arriving 30 minutes late every day is the same as being absent for 18 days a year

Being on time is important!

Some other reasons being late is a bad thing include:

  • It can be embarrassing
  • It can damage a child’s confidence
  • It may lead to children being confused and missing vital instructions, information and bits of news at the start of the day
  • It disrupts everyone else’s learning

Ways to help children come to school

So what can a parent do to help their child punctually attend school every day? Here are some ideas:<5>

  • Make sure your child understands the importance of good attendance and punctuality
  • Take an interest in your child’s day at school. Talk to them about it – your child will value school more if you do                                                                                                                                                    (for tips on how to talk to a child about how their day was, see 17 Tips for Communicating with Kids and 25 Ways to Ask You Kids “So How Was School Today?”)
  • Take a positive interest in your child’s homework
  • Set a regular bed time and morning routine
  • Help your child get everything ready the night before (e.g., PE kit, school uniform)
  • Attend school Parents’ Evenings
  • Do not allow your child to be absent without good cause
  • Arrange family holidays during the school holidays not in term time
  • Arrange visits to the doctor, dentist, opticians, etc., for outside of school hours
  • Do not allow your child to be absent for birthdays, haircuts or shopping
  • Let your children know you care and that if they are experiencing any difficulties they can talk to you


1. Last two bullet points taken from Why is high attendance important to my child’s education?

2. School Attendance Matters: A Parent’s Guide

3. School attendance and absence > Legal action to enforce school attendance

4. Punctuality

5. Compiled from various sources: 1234

Also see Every School Day Counts > Why Does Attendance Matter? (US); Every Day Counts: Primary School Attendance (Aus.); Truancy (Walsall Council)





Holidays during term-time


Please click on the link below to read Nottinghamshire County Councils guidance regarding holidays during term-time