If parents do not inform the school on the first day of any absence, then all schools will action their first day response processes following up pupil absence. This may involve telephone contact or inviting parents and pupils to a meeting in school.
Each school has a named Education Welfare Officer (EWO) who is in contact with the school and visits regularly to meet with the Head Teachers or their designated staff.
Where a school has exhausted its internal processes and then referred a case to the Education Welfare Officer, discussions are undertaken between designated school staff and the allocated Education Welfare Officer. Any problems or difficulties that may be affecting the child’s attendance at school and what approaches have been implemented by the school to try and resolve these issues will be discussed, and an agreed plan of action will be developed and reviewed.
The School and the Education Welfare Officer will then arrange to meet the parents and the child(ren) to explain legal responsibilities and the importance of regular school attendance.
The Education Welfare Officer will work with the school, parents and the child(ren) to support them in meeting their responsibilities. Advice and assistance will be offered and information about other support services will be provided if appropriate. In most cases, a short term plan and intervention by the Education Welfare Officer and School will lead to an improvement in the child’s attendance at school.
As a parent you are committing an offence if you fail to make sure that your child attends school regularly, even if they are missing school without your knowledge (truanting).
If, after planned work, unauthorised absences are still a concern, The Education Welfare Service has a duty to consider legal action. Parents can be prosecuted in the magistrate’s court and fined up to £2,000 per each offence and/or receive up to three months’ imprisonment.
The Local Authority can also request a Parenting Order.
The Local Authority may apply for an Education Supervision Order (ESO) in addition to, or instead of, prosecution. An Education Supervision Order is heard in the Family Proceedings Court and makes the council responsible for advising, supporting and giving direction to a child and their parents in order to make sure that they attend school regularly. This can only be issued by the court.
What you can do to help your child attend regularly
Parents should make sure their child arrives at school on time every day for both the morning and afternoon sessions unless absence is unavoidable. Parents should ensure that their child:-
- Takes the appropriate equipment with them to school
- Is dressed in the appropriate uniform, including wearing the correct shoes
Parents should :-
- Take an interest in their child’s education
- Ask them about their day, praise and encourage their achievements at school
- Attend pastoral meetings at school if requested and also attend parents’ evenings
- Listen to their child if they make an excuse to avoid going to school. They may find there is an underlying problem
Please do not hesitate to contact the school if you believe there is a difficulty which could be impacting upon your child’s education/ wellbeing and their reluctance to attend.
What can you do to help your child?
If you suspect your child may be missing school or is unhappy at school, you should contact the school as a matter of urgency to discuss the situation.
If your child is ill or absent for any other reason, contact the school on the first day of absence as early as possible but before 9:30am at the latest. You should also send a signed, dated note of explanation on your child’s return to school.
Contact the school if there are any circumstances which are likely to result in absence.
Parents should ensure that their child’s school is constantly updated with regards to any changes in contact numbers and change of address. It is also important to update the appropriate school contact with regards to any relevant medical information related to your child.