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Havering tackles school absence

Published: Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Havering Council has launched a new drive to reduce the number of children missing school.

The move comes in a bid to stop pupils falling behind on their studies and to help parents and pupils to realise the impact that missing school can have on children long-term.

New legislation introduced last year, gives local authorities permission to not only work with local authority-run schools, but also academies to look at the trends for missing school and how to tackle them.

The average school attendance during the full year release 2021/2022

Primary schools

  • National – 93.7 percent
  • Havering – 94.0 percent

Secondary schools

  • National – 91.0 percent
  • Havering – 92.3 percent

Although at present, school attendance for Havering children is a little higher than the national average, the Council is working to improve these figures.

Some parents may feel 90 percent of their child’s attendance is acceptable however, this equates to half a day a week of missed school, which adds up to four weeks throughout a school year.

Councillor Oscar Ford, Cabinet Lead for Children and Young People, said:

“We want parents, carers and pupils to recognise what absences can mean for them and their child’s education, and also to understand the repercussions that can come with their child missing school, which can include being fined.

“In addition to not attending school, pupils are marked as absent if they arrive late for school. Every minute lost means they are losing out on learning, and this can have a major impact longer-term.

"Being just five minutes late each day adds up to three lost school days; being 15 minutes late is the equivalent to 10 lost days.”

The Council’s school attendance team visits every Havering school each term to look at their attendance records. 

Some of the reasons pupils gave for missing school were: 

  •   looking after pets
  •   cheaper holidays during term-time
  •   birthdays
  •   oversleeping
  •   visiting relatives
  •   caring for family members
  •   buying new shoes or uniform

Councillor Ford added:

“It’s important that children have good school attendance, as it also affects their social and mental wellbeing.

"Being late or missing school means they can miss out on playtime or socialising with their friends which then affects their friendships.

"Pupils also fall behind in their work and then feel anxious if they are asked a question they can’t answer. 

“All these have a knock-on effect, which sometimes mean pupils then don’t want to attend school making a bad situation worse.”

He said: “Schools will work with parents and carers to get to the root of any issue and to find ways to help them get their child back in school.

"Anyone who has concerns or needs more information should speak their child’s class teacher.”

There is a range of help and support available and parents should discuss any concerns with their child’s school for advice and guidance.

Our attendance video talks through some of the issues.