St Gregory & St Patrick's



 Absence from school 

If a child is unable to come to School due to ill-health, we ask that the School is informed before 9:00am on the first day of absence. You can report your child's absence in  the following ways:

Telephone the school office: 01946 595010

Email the school office: 

If we have not received any contact from parents/carers by 9.00am we will call/text the contact numbers we have on our system.

It is important that you always inform us of any changes to numbers/emergency contact in a case of an emergency. 

Why is good attendance important?

Good attendance and punctuality are vital for success at school  and to establish positive life habits that are necessary for  future success.

Through regular attendance, pupils can:

  • Build friendships and develop social groups.
  • Develop life skills.
  • Engage in essential learning and school social events.
  • Achieve their potential. 

This is essential for pupils to get the most out of their school experience, including their attainment, wellbeing, and wider life chances. The pupils with the highest attainment at the end of key stage 2 and key stage 4 have higher rates of attendance over the key stage compared to those with the lowest attainment.



The law on school attendance and right to a full-time education

The law entitles every child of compulsory school age to an efficient, full-time education suitable to their age, aptitude, and any special educational need they may have. It is the legal responsibility of every parent to make sure their child receives that education either by attendance at a school or by education otherwise than at a school.

Where parents decide to have their child registered at school, they have a legal duty to ensure their child attends that school regularly. This means their child must attend every day that the school is open, except in a small number of allowable circumstances such as being too ill to attend or being given permission for an absence in advance from the school.

If you fail to do this – even if your child misses school without you knowing – legal action can be taken against you by the Local Authority. It is a legal offence to fail to ensure your child attends school regularly.

Legal action can involve a penalty notice or being taken to court.

Parents also face the risk of imprisonment and parenting orders. Parenting orders involve attending a counselling and guidance programme, usually a parenting class.

 Under the 1996 Education Act,  a penalty notice of £60 (per parent, per child) may be issued as an alternative to prosecution, but this will rise to £120 if it is not paid within 21 days. Failure to pay a penalty notice will usually lead to prosecution.

It all adds up...

98% attendance means

4 school days missed.


95% attendance means

10 school days missed.

Risk of underachievement.


90% attendance means

19 school days missed.

Severe risk of underachievement

A child whose attendance fell below 90% every year, would miss more than a year’s education in total!


How can I help?

  • Encourage good attendance by making sure your child goes to school regularly;
  • Make sure your child understands that you do not approve of absence from school;
  • Inform us on the first day of your child’s absence (before 8:45am), and keep us updated throughout the absence period (a reason for absence must be provided);
  • Provide us with more than one emergency contact for your child, to ensure that if we receive no response from one number, we can try the others that you have provided;
  • Co-operate with our schools to make sure your child overcomes any attendance problems;
  • Discuss planned absences with the headteacher and apply for permission well in advance;
  • Only take your child out of school during term time where the absence has been authorised;
  • If mornings are hectic in your household, prepare as much as possible the night before;
  • If your child is experiencing any difficulties, raise the issue with school immediately.

Don’t underestimate the importance of 100% attendance and punctuality. Even one day missed can have an effect on learning:

Authorised and unauthorised absence.

 When a child is absent from school, this will be classified as either ‘authorised’ or ‘unauthorised’.


The headteacher decides which absences are granted as authorised.  Authorised absences are only permitted for valid reasons such as:

  • Illness;
  • Medical or dental appointments (where an appointment card or letter has been presented at school;
  • Religious observances;
  • Family bereavement.

 Wherever possible, parents should always try to arrange medical and dental appointments during school holidays or after school hours and keep time out of school to a minimum (i.e. the child should only be out of school for the time needed to get to and from the appointment).


Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider essential or reasonable.

Unauthorised absences can include:

  • Forgetting school term dates;
  • Oversleeping;
  • Absences which have not been explained;
  • Arriving at school after the register has closed;
  • Leaving school for no reason during the day;
  • Keeping pupils off school unnecessarily or without explanation;
  • Day trips or family outings;
  • Problems with uniform/clothing;
  • Birthdays and holidays.

Too ill for school?

We absolutely do not want you to send your unwell child to school.  However, where the illness is low level, please do your best to send your child trusting the adults who work with them every day to keep a close eye on them and let you know if we do not think they are well enough to stay.  Children often seem unwell at home but can cope well with the school day once they are among their friends. 

Children can attend school with minor ailments (toothache, headache, stomach ache, cold, sore throat). We can also administer medicine where parents have completed forms to give us permission to do so.  Please contact the main office for these forms.

Children should be off school for 48 hours if they have a diarrhoea or vomiting bug after the last episode of sickness/ diarrhoea.

If you are unsure how long your child should be absent with an illness, speak to someone at school or speak to your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Leave of Absence during term time

The law does not grant parents an automatic right to take their children out of school during term time. Schools cannot be expected to authorise an absence for a holiday during term time.

Taking holidays during term time means that pupils miss important school time – both educationally and for other school activities. It will be difficult for pupils to catch up on work when they return to school. Children returning from a leave of absence during term time are also unprepared for the lessons which build on the teaching they have missed. This poses a potential risk of underachievement for your child and other children in the class.  This is something we all have responsibility to avoid.

You may consider that a holiday will be educational but your child will still miss out on the teaching that their peers will receive whilst your child is away.

Only in exceptional circumstances may a holiday be authorised during term time – this will be decided by the headteacher.

 Exceptional circumstances do not involve cheaper costs, family availability or weather conditions.

We understand that increased prices of holidays during school breaks, can affect parents’ decision to request a leave of absence for their children during term time; all staff working in schools are subject to the same increases.  Please consider writing to your MP to campaign for the cost of holidays during authorised dates to be the same as prices taken in term times.

In accordance with the 1996 Education Act, you can be fined if you take your child on holiday during term time without permission from the headteacher.

Failing to ensure regular school attendance by taking your child out of school in term time for a holiday is an offence under section 444 (1) or section 444 (1A) of the 1996 Education act. The maximum penalty for these offences is a fine of £2,500, 3 months’ imprisonment or both.

Alternatively, the Local Authority/School may choose to impose a Section 444A Penalty Notice in the order of a fine instead of prosecuting for the offences given above.  The amount of the penalty notice is £60.00 (per parent, per child) if paid within 21 days.  If paid after 21 days but within 28 days the penalty notice is doubled to £120.00 (per parent, per child).  Failure to pay a Penalty Notice will result in prosecution except in limited circumstances.

Requesting Absences

All absences, including for holidays, must be requested as far in advance as possible. Parents are required to compete a ‘leave of absence’ form available here or from the school office. Please click here for a Request for a Leave of Absence During Term Time form.


Good attendance doesn’t just involve being present in school – it also involves punctuality. You also have a responsibility to ensure that your child arrives to school on time.

All pupils are expected to be in their classrooms at 8:50am every day. If pupils are not in their classrooms by 9:00am, they receive a late mark.  If pupils are not in their class by 9.30, the whole session is classes as an unauthorised absence.

 Did you know that registration after 9.00 am is recorded as late and after 9.30 am is recorded as a morning absence?

Arriving on time means your child has time to settle well and make a good start to the day.

1 minute late means your child is         

arriving after everyone else and may be feeling under anxious.

5 minutes late every day is equal to

3 lost school days a year.


We are a very supportive school and strive to work together with families to improve attendance

Successfully treating the root causes of absence and removing barriers to attendance, at home, in school or more broadly requires schools to work collaboratively with, not against families.

Our aim is to work together to:

MONITOR Rigorously use attendance data to identify patterns of poor attendance (at individual and cohort level) as soon as possible so all parties can work together to resolve them before they become entrenched.

EXPECT Aspire to high standards of attendance from all pupils and parents and build a culture where all can, and want to, be in school and ready to learn by prioritising attendance improvement across the school.

LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND When a pattern is spotted, discuss with pupils and parents to listen to understand barriers to attendance and agree how all partners can work together to resolve them.

FACILITATE SUPPORT Remove barriers in school and help pupils and parents to access the support they need to overcome the barriers outside of school. This might include an early help or whole family plan where absence is a symptom of wider issues.

FORMALISE SUPPORT Where absence persists and voluntary support is not working or not being engaged with, partners should work together to explain the consequences clearly and ensure support is also in place to enable families to respond. Depending on the circumstances this may include formalising support through a parenting contract or education supervision order.

ENFORCE Where all other avenues have been exhausted and support is not working or not being engaged with, enforce attendance through statutory intervention or prosecution to protect the pupil’s right to an education.

Please get in touch if you would like us to support you to improve attendance for your child.




Esk Avenue, Whitehaven, Cumbria, CA28 8AJ

01946 595010