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School Hallway


Children are expected to attend school for 190 days each year. Having attendance below 95% can impact on achievement and outcomes overall. Please see below for further information.

Why is attendance important?

Children with good attendance are in school for at least 95% of the time. Missing what seems to be even a small amount of time can really have an impact on how well your child achieves in school.

If their attendance is 90%, they will have missed approximately 4 weeks of school or 100 lessons

If their attendance is 80%,  they will have missed approximately 8 weeks of school or 200 lessons

Being late also makes a big impact.

If your child is 5 minutes late  every day for a year, they will have missed around 3 days of teaching.

If your child is 15 minutes late  every day for a year, they will have missed around 9.5 days of teaching.

If your child is 25 minutes late every day for a year, they will have missed around 15 days of teaching.

They will also miss out out on important events like assemblies, information about events etc., and being  late can make it harder for some children to go into school at all.

Absences from school

If a child is absent from school, this can be authorised or unauthorised.

A school will authorise an absence if:

  • the child is too ill to attend and the school accepts this as valid 

  • the parent has got the advance permission of the school e.g. for a holiday, religious observation;

  • the child has a medical or dental appointment;

  • the child is on study leave;

  • the child is being educated off-site;

  • the child has been excluded.

Schools also have a safeguarding duty, under section 175 Education Act 2002, to investigate any unexplained absences.

Holidays in term time

Head teachers can only authorise leave of absence in exceptional circumstances. If a head teacher grants a leave request, it will be for the head teacher to determine the length of time that the child can be away from school. Leave is unlikely, however, to be granted for the purposes of a family holiday as a norm.

Monitoring the attendance of Barnet’s Children in Care or  Children with a Child Protection Plan

Schools should follow their school attendance policy for all children with a social worker as they would any child and engage the support of the attendance service where appropriate. The attendance service are unlikely to get involved with a child in care where the Local Authority is the corporate parent but they may be able to provide some useful advice.


In addition, the Virtual School focuses on improving school attendance for Barnet’s children by monitoring attendance of children in care or those with a Child Protection Plan. 

For children in care, this is through Welfare Call who make daily calls to schools of statutory age children. This is logged on an online system. Welfare Call also notifies the Virtual School of any exclusions.

For young people with a Child Protection Plan, attendance information is extracted from schools' management information systems three time a day - this is through a company called Asset. This ‘real time’ data assists with tracking patterns of attendance and exclusions and in turn enables the Virtual School to tackle underachievement where it is linked to poor attendance and share information with social workers so that concerns can be followed up.

Some strategies to support attendance of a young person:

  • linking them with a member of staff, for example from the pastoral team, who they can chat to

  • linking them with a peer buddy or mentor

  • finding a way for them to feel more part of the school community, for example by joining a club

  • thinking of ways they can structure break-times if they are finding them difficult

  • offering them a new role or responsibility, such as library or book-corner monitor, or learning mentor

  • offering a flexible start-time or timetable

  • referring them for additional support such as counselling

Pupils at risk of or who are persistently or severely absent

Children with attendance below 90% are classed as persistently absent.

Children with attendance below 50% are classed as severely absent.

Social workers and family support workers should:

  • convey high expectations for attendance

  • make sure school attendance is prioritised within multi-agency plans - it should be  target on the PEP and on CIN/CP plans if the attendance is a cause for concern

  • use children in need or other multi-agency plans to identify barriers to attendance and engage schools and services in providing early intervention support

Working Together to Improve School Attendance

The government has  published 'Working together to improve school attendance' ( May 2022 which outlines the ways schools, governors, LA early help and social workers, statutory safeguarding services, virtual school heads and parents can support school attendance.

Links for parents and carers on how to support school refusal

Not Fine in School - School Refusal, School Attendance,


School Anxiety & Refusal | Parents Guide To Support | YoungMinds

Other useful resources

Support for pupils where a mental health issue is affecting attendance: effective practice examples (

Barnet Virtual School's Attendance Strategy


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