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The highs and lows of school attendance

There is a real push this year on school attendance. After a devastating few years due to Covid, the need for regular attendance is more important than ever. So you can expect schools to be very hot on absence in response to government expectations and interventions.

When should I keep my child home?
Obviously there are times when your child should be home. If they have something contagious then they should stay home. If they can barely concentrate, then they should be home in bed. IMPORTANT: if they have a tummy bug, then they should be home for 48 hours after the last bout of sickness or diarrhoea to protect others.
With the cost of living crisis, we want a cheap holiday…
It’s up to you but remember that education law states that parents do not have a right to take their child out of school for a holiday during term time. You will be fined if your child has an unauthorised absence: in my local area this has been set at 5 days but this also includes late arrivals.
Can I secretly go away?
No! Think of the pressure on your poor child as they struggle to lie to their friends and staff. This sets a terrible example and will destroy the trust between home and school.
What are the risks of low attendance?
Missed learning and time with their peers can lead to falling behind in their work, poor motivation with work and social life, behaviour issues and low enjoyment of learning.

I have really mixed feelings about absence. As a child, I was ill for a significant period of time and missed long multiplication and have never been able to do it since (even at my age!) Being a parent (especially a working parent!) I need my kids to be in school as much as possible as I can’t easily afford to take time off. In my work as a teaching assistant I have seen children very upset at being asked to lie about their absence and the frustration of teachers who have to try to catch up on missed work alongside the other curriculum demands.
Learning is so important but you need to think about your family’s needs too. Ultimately the choice belongs to the parent and you need to balance the educational needs against other factors that affect your family. Illness should always be taken seriously but I believe that holidays are a personal choice. When planning a holiday in the secondary years, I would consider carefully the impact of missing school but at primary I would discuss with the school and ask for work if possible.


  1. Our rules aren’t as strict as yours but they have cracked down. I have the other issue, my daughter says she has a sore throat and now with COVID I feel I have to keep her home….(where as in the past I would have sent her). But in a recent week, her school had 180 kids off sick with COVID so I guess at least I didn’t spread it…(as she was home with a ‘sore throat’ for 2 days prior to testing positive….

  2. I don’t have to worry about this issue since we homeschool our kids. But when I did go to school, my mom made it clear there were two times a year that I was going to be taking off. The teachers could plan accordingly in how I could keep up or not. Either way, those were her Fridays.
    I think there has to be a happy balance in the requirements versus the families’ needs as well.

  3. This is a fab conversation opener. I’ve always been in camp ‘go to school’, and we wouldn’t ever dream of taking holidays during school time. I think your right with the recent new crack downs on absences. It makes sense, but on the flip side I think there’s a huge amount of extra pressure to send kids to school when they aren’t well, and a lot of hoop jumping to prove they aren’t well enough to attend school in that occasion. It’s a hard one! #DreamTeam xx

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