Education Welfare FAQs

Section 576 of the Education Act 1996: A ‘parent’ in relation to any child or young person, includes any person:

  • all natural / adoptive parents, whether they are married or not
  • who is not a parent but who has parental responsibility for him, or 
  • who has care of him. Parental partners can be included (whether they are married or the natural parent of the child) as they have ‘care of’ the child. 

If a pupil lives with a grandparent or older sibling as their main carer they can also be included.

A pupil is identified as a persistent absentee if they miss 10% or more of their possible sessions.

A school's persistent absence rate is the total number of persistently absent pupils of compulsory school age, divided by the number of compulsory school age pupils in the school.

A pupil becomes severely absent when they miss more than 50% of school across the school year.

A child must start full-time education once they reach compulsory school age.

This is on 31 December, 31 March or 31 August following their fifth birthday - whichever comes first.

If the child's fifth birthday is on one of those dates, then they reach compulsory school age on that date.

A child can leave school on the last Friday in June if they’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays.
They must then do one of the following until they’re 18:

  •  stay in full-time education, for example at a college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training.

No formal legal action can be taken as child is not of compulsory school age.

Schools can offer parents support and advise of the consequences of irregular school attendance when child is of compulsory age and seek to establish good attendance habits at an early age. 

A parent meeting is suggested here to discuss the attendance concerns. School could refer pupil to school health and get advice from them. NHS advice is available on their website.

In the majority of cases a parent’s notification that their child is ill can be accepted without question or concern. Schools should not routinely request that parents provide medical evidence to support illness. Schools are advised not to request medical evidence unnecessarily as it places additional pressure on health professionals, their staff and their appointments system particularly if the illness is one that does not require treatment by a health professional. Only where the school has a genuine and reasonable doubt about the authenticity of the illness should medical evidence be requested to support the absence.

Follow your internal attendance process and consider sending legal warning letters to both parents. An attendance meeting should be arranged if no improvement is made after issuing the warning letter. An attendance contract can also be considered for use in the meeting.

Further discussion with your named Education Welfare Officer may be appropriate. 

Attempt to contact family via phone calls / email throughout the absence as necessary.

Visit the home address and leave a calling slip if necessary if there is no response.

Consider if they have siblings absent from another school and make contact with that school to check. If unsure, contact your named Education Welfare Officer for details.

On their return, a letter should be sent to the parents that states you have reason to believe they have been absent due to an unauthorised holiday, and they need to prove otherwise.

This is at an individual schools’ discretion and is the decision of the head teacher.

Where a child’s attendance is deteriorating and the reasons provided for absences are not clear, consistent or missing, consideration should always be given to cease authorising absences.

You will need to re-visit your internal attendance processes and contact your named education welfare officer and discuss in more detail. 

There is no right of appeal once a penalty notice has been issued.  We can only withdraw a notice where:

  • it should not have been issued (for example, if the child was actually at school)
  • it has been issued to the wrong person
  • if it appears to the local authority that it contains material errors.

If parents believe that one of the above circumstances applies, they should contact the local authority with appropriate evidence to support their view, but if they wish to make general representations, they should contact the school or academy.

The local code of conduct for issuing penalty notices indicates that the use of penalty notices will be restricted to two per pupil per academic year. 

You will need to re-visit your internal attendance processes and contact your named education welfare officer and discuss in more detail.

The DfE have provided some guidance. It would also be advisable to consider an Early Help Assessment or discussion with an Early Help advisor in order to consider further support options. Information regarding local Emotionally Based School Non-Attendance training for school attendance leads is available. 

Every school needs to have their own attendance policy in place and any leave of absence request needs to be dealt according to their own attendance policy.

In line with the Children Missing in Education (CME) statutory guidance 2016:

Schools must enter pupils on the admission register at the beginning of the first day on which the school has agreed, or been notified, that the pupil will attend the school. If a pupil fails to attend on the agreed or notified date, the school should undertake reasonable enquiries to establish the child’s whereabouts and consider notifying the local authority at the earliest opportunity.

Children should not be sent back to Admissions as “no shows”. They should be either located or referred as CME.

Before a pupil is registered as missing, several investigations must be carried out to locate the pupil and family:

  • If the pupil has not arrived by specified on roll date but have transferred in from out of the city, try to call the old school to see if the pupil is still attending there and they have not arrived in Derby.
  • Call all contact numbers including emergency contacts (where appropriate). This includes email addresses where possible.
  • School could discuss with missing pupil’s friends and family members possible whereabouts if appropriate.
  • Undertake home visits and make enquiries with neighbours.
  • Discuss with your named education welfare officer as to next steps or actions.

Please refer to the statutory CME guidance and seek guidance from your named education welfare officer before removing under one of the 15 ‘Grounds for deletion’.

Parents need to put their wish in writing in form of a letter or email to school. School should then write to parents informing them of the date the child be removed from roll.

Schools should then notify School Admissions and email the EHE Officer, James Cottrell:

The appropriate SIP form should then be completed (Notification of removal from roll to EHE).

Please note that if a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in place, contact should be made with the appropriate SEN Officer before removal from roll can be considered. 

The school where pupil is on roll is responsible to follow up irregular school attendance.

If an EHCP is in place, a placement review may be required via contact with the appropriate SEN officer.

If no EHCP is in place, please contact your named education welfare officer who will be able to gain the right advice for you.

Working Together to Improve School Attendance guidance is available for reference. However, please contact your named education welfare officer for further advice if required.

To move towards earlier identification and support for pupils with poor attendance, local authorities are expected to organise termly Targeting Support Meetings with each school. This provides an opportunity to build strong relationships and work collaboratively with the school’s attendance leads to identify, discuss, and agree joint targeted actions for pupils who are persistently or severely absent or those at risk of becoming so. Agree what support the LA will provide and which (if any) other statutory or voluntary services should become involved.

DfE guidance is available for both categories and the National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE) also have some helpful information and guidance available.

Data will be collected from the central DfE portal (WONDE). Unless already completed, please sign up to this, further details are available on the GOV.UK.

Information on Home to School Travel Assisstance can be found on the Council website.

No, this fund is no longer in place. However, information on the Household Support Fund and Community Action Derby may be helpful in accessing appropriate funding.