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Summary table of responsibilities for school attendance

Guide for Parents on School Attendance

We strongly believe that the best place for our young people is in school.

School isn't just learning about subjects; it's where our young people forge friendships, find passions for hobbies and have access to opportunities that are not available elsewhere, such as participating in school sports competitions, using the latest technologies and school trips to various locations. 



Absence and Academic Progress

We also know from research that better attendance leads to better outcomes - those who attend for 95% or more are likely to achieve three grades higher across all GCSE subjects than those who attend for 50% or less.


Absence at the start of the year

We also know that those who are absent at the start of the year are between five and six times more likely to miss at least 20% of sessions if they were absent at the start of the year.


What if my child can't attend school?

There are times when your child may be too ill to attend school.  It is REALLY IMPORTANT that you phone the school each day of absence before 9am and let them know that your child will not be in - this is for safeguarding purposes as we need to know where your child is in case you believe them to be at school and we have no registration mark for them. Please also provide the specific symptoms your child is experiencing as this helps us to recognise any patterns within the school community.

It can be hard to work out if your child is too ill - do click on this NHS link for some useful advice.

If your child is going to be off for an extended period of time due to illness, please let the school know as they can put extra measures in place to mitigate any loss of learning and social interaction.  

Please do read our attendance policy, Click Here


What happens if my child's attendance is below 95%?


If your child has attendance below 95%, there is a process that the school will follow.  This replicates the advice from Dorset and BCP councils. 

Please see the chart below which details this process. 


What if my child has an ongoing health condition?


If your child has an ongoing health condition, talk to the school who, working with you and your child, will put in place an Individual Health Care Plan (IHCP) which will  detail how staff should respond to the medical needs of your child, including what to do in a crisis.

If your child's medical needs mean that there may be times when they are away from school, perhaps whilst receiving treatment, then it may be relevant for a Medical Absence Plan (MAP) to be put in place.  This details what opportunities there will be for academic learning and for social interaction as well as how registers will be coded in the case of absence. 



What if my child is too anxious to attend school?


Anxiety is normal when faced with challenging situations.  Often, the anxiety can be overcome by framing things in a postive manner. The first thing to do is talk to the school who may be able to identify some easy adjustments to enable your child to attend school. 

If your child is still struggling to attend school, it is likely that they may need some professional intervention.  It is worth speaking to your Locality Office to see what they are able to offer as schools are limited to working during school hours and usually only when your child is in school.  Click here for the contact numbers for all Dorset Localities and a map to work out which locality you need to contact.  If you live in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area,  click here and scroll down for the contact details. 

If your child is suffering with Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA), there are some good resources here that you can access to understand the underlying emotions and how to work with your child to overcome their EBSA. 

Dorset Studio School works with the Mental Health in Schools Team (MHST), click here for more information. Please speak with our Pastoral Support staff to see whether a referral would be suitable.

Although we will support you in any way that we are able to, we are unable to spend large amounts of time with your child outside of the normal classroom or school building.  Every staff member has to adhere to their timetable so will be unable to spend any time away from their directed work. 

Practical advice for parents from suggests:

Parents play a crucial role in supporting their child back into school.  It is important to have both parents/caregivers actively involved even when custody is split or joint.

  • Believe that your child will get over the problem and let them know that you believe they can handle it.

  • Listen to your child and encourage them to talk about their fears at times other than when you are attempting to obtain school attendance.

  • Be understanding, use reflective listening, don’t use shame.

  • Maintain good contact with school.

  • Make sure that the child knows you will return to pick them up or that they are provided adequate supervision after school.

  • Prepare them with gradual separations.

  • Inform them that you expect them to stay for the entire day.

  • Leave quickly (don’t look back or hover).

  • Do not reinforce the child’s distress by rescuing.

  • Be reliable and on time when picking up your child.

  • Have the other parent, relative, neighbour, or someone else who is less emotionally involved with the child take the child to school.

  • Let the child have something of yours to keep in their pocket i.e. a symbol or picture.

  • Give the child as much control as possible through providing them the illusion of control (“Do you want to wear your green coat or black jacket when you go to school today?”)

  • Prolonged goodbyes don’t help the situation. A firm, caring, and quick separation is best for all concerned.


Where can I get extra support? 


Please clink on the links below for contact details for extra support.

Young Minds - information and support

Action for Children - information and support

Parentkind - information and links to support

Family Lives - live chat button on this website for advice

School - practical advice and resources for teens (although there is an element of selling their treatment services)

Dorset Youth - mental health resources and apps for older children


What if I want to take my child on holiday during term time? 


Holidays during term time are not authorised other than in 'exceptional circumstances'.  This means that you could receive a fine from the council if you choose to take your child on holiday when they should be at school. 

Most schools will ask you to fill in a request form to work out whether your holiday may be authorised under 'exceptional circumstances'.   Headteachers have no discretion to authorise a holiday during term time unless there are genuinely exceptional circumstances. The basic principles for defining ‘exceptional’ are rare, significant, unavoidable and short.  In this instance, 'unavoidable' should be taken to mean an event that could not reasonably be scheduled at another time. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that the headteacher has all the information in writing to be able to determine whether the request is truly exceptional. 

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