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Why is good school attendance important?

Regular and punctual school attendance is essential to supporting a child or young person to flourish, fulfil their potential and enables them to:

  • learn
  • make and manage friendships
  • develop new skills
  • have fun
  • experience new things in the world around them
  • develop awareness and respect of other cultures, religion, ethnicity, and gender differences
  • build confidence and self-esteem
  • achieve and thrive with a sense of belonging to their school community
  • prioritise their well-being and happiness
  • be given the best start in life, enabling the best possible choices in their future

Missing school… missing out!

Don’t let your child be the one to miss out!

Attendance during one school year

Equivalent number of missed:



Average lessons


“We are only a few minutes late” – Does it matter?

Being late for school reduces learning time and does not prepare your child or young person for their future working lives.

  • Arrival 5 minutes late every day = 3 days of learning missed each year
  • Arrival 15 minutes late every day = 10 days or 2 weeks of learning each year.

How you can help your child or young person to have excellent attendance in school

  • Always inform the school if your child is absent.
  • Talk openly to your child about school and work in partnership with the school to best support them.
  • Encourage your child to attend regularly and advocate, speak up on behalf of their needs.
  • Arrange medical or dental appointments outside of school hours when possible.
  • Establish good morning and bedtime routines.
  • Support your child to arrive at school on time.
  • Take truancy seriously – consider where are they? Who are they with? What are they doing?
  • Where possible attend parent consultations and school events.
  • Value and acknowledge achievements in school.
  • Take family holidays, visit family outside of term time.

What does the law say about attendance?

By law, all children of compulsory school age (between 5 and 16 yrs) must get a suitable, full-time education. As a parent you are responsible for making sure this happens.
Parents and carers commit an offence if a child does not attend school regularly and the absence is not agreed by the school.

Will an absence be authorised by the school?

Schools can only agree absences for a limited range of exceptional circumstances, these are typically absences that are completely unavoidable. Absences that will not be agreed might include:

  • Arrival after registers have closed.
  • Absences that are not properly explained.
  • Day trips and holidays in term time.
  • Leaving the school without school authorisation during the day.

Repeated unauthorised absences may be referred to Devon County Council for Parent Responsibility measures to improve attendance.

Who can help you?

Do not be afraid to ask for help if a problem arises. Parents and carers should reach out to the school to explore how they can support and/or contact other services available to help.

  • Devon Safeguarding Children Partnership
  • Public Health Nursing Hubs Tel: 03332 341 910
  • Early Help:
    • Northern Devon:
    • Southern Devon:
    • Mid & East Devon:
    • Exeter:
  • Devon Independent Advisory Service

At Gatehouse Primary Academy we constantly strive and look for ways to improve the education for all our children.


The First Federation believes that education is crucial to a child’s life chances and opportunities. The learning and experiences of a child at primary school shapes and moulds them for the rest of their lives. The Trust wishes to ensure that all its pupils receive a full-time education which maximises opportunities for each pupil to realise his/her true potential. In every school the staff will work with pupils and their families to support parents/carers in helping them to meet their legal duty to ensure that their children attend school regularly and on time.


Within the First Federation schools we:


  • expect pupils to attend school regularly and to arrive in a fit condition to learn
  • encourage good attendance and will investigate all absenteeism
  • ensure school staff set a good example in matters of attendance and punctuality and will promptly investigate all absenteeism and lateness
  • will work closely with parents should attendance/punctuality give cause for concern
  • will work closely with families when there are circumstances where pupils cannot attend school due to Covid-19, in accordance with the latest guidance from the Department for Education and Public Health.

The Role of the Parent/Guardian


  • It is the statutory duty of every parent/guardian to ensure that their child attends school regularly and on time. (Section 444(1) Education Act 1996)
  • Parents must contact the school on the first day of absence notifying the school of the reason for the child not attending.
  • Where a message confirming absence has not been received, parents will be required to send into school a written note explaining the reason for each absence. (A blanket reason for a series of absences cannot be accepted). For any absence from school, permission must be sought prior to absence taking place.
  • It is the remit of the school to authorise absence for any period where the Head of School / Link Director decides that this is the case.

Reminder - all pupil absences need to be reported via the admin email - or through the School Gateway app or by telephone on the day.

Please do not send through Seesaw.

Many thanks for your support.

School Office

What you can do to help your child….


  • Make sure your child comes to school regularly and punctually.
  • If your child starts missing school, work with the school to put things right. Communication is very important.
  • If your child is absent you must phone the school as soon as possible on the first morning of absence and on each subsequent day of absence. After registration, if we have not had contact from you, the school will attempt to contact you. Staff will be concerned if there is no response.
  • If you feel it is essential for your child to miss school, for example a religious festival or other special occasion, please complete an absence request form, 14 days prior to the event.
  • Please support us in our efforts to encourage good attendance.


How will we achieve good attendance and punctuality….


  • We would like you to help us to achieve our target of 96.5% attendance rate each year for Gatehouse Primary Academy.
  • Members of our attendance team are always happy to provide advice and guidance.
  • We are happy to meet with parent/carers to discuss support strategies where appropriate.


The office staff will be then be outside welcoming children to school each morning.

Office opening times are from 8.30am to 4pm.


Parents / Carers are requested to telephone the office on 01626 862605 and leave a message on the absence line (option 1) before 8.50am if their child is going to be absent/late. The reason for absence must be in full i.e. sickness on Sunday, temperature, severe cold etc. Please do not leave vague messages i.e. unwell, ill or under the weather as the school office will have to call you back for more information.


Where a child is absent from school and we have not received any verbal or written communication from the parent, then we initiate a first day contact process. Office staff check all class registers between 9.10am and 9.30am on a daily basis, to identify those pupils who are absent. If no message is left with the school office we will telephone in turn each of the contacts on the list provided by the parents, until a contact has been reached to advise why the child is not at school. If we are still unable to get confirmation as to why the child is not at school, we will proceed to a welfare check (this is a visit to the home address). This is normally carried out by the senior staff from the school or the Educational Welfare Officer (EWO). If we are still unable to confirm the child's welfare, we will call 101 to report the child as missing. This is the school’s duty of care and safeguarding for your child.


The registration bell goes at at 8.50am and the class register opens and closes at 9.00am. If you child arrives after the register has started around 8.55/9.00am but before it has closed at 9.00am they will be coded as late (L). If they arrive after 9.00am they will be coded as arriving after the register has closed (U) which is an unauthorised absence.


The school attendance policy (available to view in Key Information) states that the attendance of children who arrive late will be registered as follows:


*A child arriving after the register has started but before the register has closed will be coded as “late” (code L).


*A child arriving after the register has closed will be coded as “Late after registration closed” (code U). This is counted as an “Unauthorised Absence” (see appendix for use of other codes).


*The times from which children will be marked as “late” or “late after registration closed” will be clearly communicated to parents.


We have a 48 hour rule for any sickness/diarrhoea to try to prevent any outbreaks. Please ensure that if your child has suffered with either of these, they remain absent from school for a clear 48 hour period from the last attack.


Absence requests

If your child needs to be away from school, for any reason, please complete an absence request form (L5) or bring in a copy of the medical appointment letter/card. All holiday requests for children  are unauthorised, unless there are exceptional circumstances and any absence over 10 sessions (5 days) are reported to Devon County Council in accordance with Government guidelines, which may result in a penalty notice.


We always strive for high attendance at Gatehouse Primary Academy and work closely with the Attendance Improvement Office to raise children's attendance. Please be advised that 6 missed sessions per half term (3 days) would put a child in a persistent absence category and the Attendance Improvement Office may become involved.


We are sure you will appreciate that good attendance in school correlates to the educational achievements of children. Official research by the DfE shows, in general, the higher the percentage of sessions missed across the Key Stage, the lower the likely level of attainment at the end of Key Stage 2. In particular, pupils with no absence are 1.6 times more likely to achieve Age Related Expectations or above, and 4.7 times more likely to achieve above Age Related Expectations than pupils that missed 15-20% of all sessions.


Further information can be found by viewing our Pupil Attendance Policy on the First Federation Trust Website.