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School Attendance

As a school, we prioritise the importance of good attendance, as we strongly believe that establishing a pattern of regular attendance during the first few years at school is also the key to every child achieving his or her full potential.

It is the department of Education/Ofsted that dictate attendance below 95% is poor and that below 90% is ‘persistent absenteeism’.

The Law

Children must attend school under the Education Act (1996).  Each year there are 190 school days which leaves 175 for holidays and non-urgent medical and dental appointments. 

Section 444 of the Education Act (1996) states that: ‘If a child of compulsory school age, who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at the school, the parent is guilty of an offence. 

The law requires schools to take an attendance register twice a day, once at the start of the morning session and then again at the start of the afternoon session.

Failing to send your child to school regularly without good reason is a criminal offence.


Absence disrupts the education of the individual pupil and the whole class. Are you aware that children who do not attend regularly:

  • Do not achieve well in exams
  • Find it difficult to maintain friendships
  • Are more likely to become involved in crime
  • Miss out on opportunities in further education and the world of work

Absence Reporting

If your child is not going to be in school for any reason please call the office on 020 7228 3857 or email the school on office@johnburns.wandsworth.sch.uk to report their absence. 

If we have not heard from you by 9.30am we will firstly call you, and if we cannot get a response from you, we will call the contact numbers that you have provided in order to gain an explanation for the absence.  If we still have not been able to ascertain that your child is safe we will then contact Children’s Services / the police who will investigate further.  We have a duty to all children to ensure that they are safe and we take this responsibility very seriously. 

Categorisation of Absence

The school is obliged by law to differentiate between authorised and unauthorised absence.  A letter or telephone message from a parent does not in itself authorise an absence.  Only if the Headteacher is satisfied as to the validity of the explanation offered by the letter or message will the absence be authorised.   

Any pupil who is on roll but not present in the school must be recorded within one of these categories:

  1. Unauthorised Absence
  2. Authorised Absence
  3. Approved Educational Activity

1. Unauthorised absence

This is for those pupils where no reason has been provided, or whose absence is deemed to be without a valid reason.

2. Authorised absence

This is for those pupils who are away from school for a reason that is deemed to be valid under the Education Act 1996.

3. Approved Educational Activity

This covers types of supervised educational activity undertaken off site but with the approval of the school.

Note pupils in this category are deemed to be present for attendance returns purposes. This would include:

  • Educational Visits
  • Sporting activities and tournaments
  • Approved education off site
  • Dual registration

It is my duty as Headteacher to address poor attendance and the duty of my Governing Body to hold me accountable for it.  The vast majority of parents at John Burns Primary School ensure their children attend in line with the expectations and I am grateful for this, as are my staff.  I cannot however ignore that attendance in my school, for too many children, is below that expected.  It is a stark and frightening fact that whilst we are driving up standards across the school, many are missing out and suffering as a result.  This has a negative impact on the children and the wider school.

Traffic Light Attendance Chart

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Attendance

Before you Request Leave of Absence