Parent guide to improving school attendance

Attendance matters

A child’s success at school is likely to be affected negatively if their attendance is poor. Those who do not attend regularly may fall behind in their learning leading to feelings of frustration and unhappiness. As a Church in Wales school, we seek to provide a Christian environment in which all young people can flourish as a member of a happy, caring and safe community. It is our goal that each of our pupils attends school regularly and on time, making the most of the opportunities available to them.

Non-attendance is an important issue that is treated seriously. However, every case is different and we will always try to support families to improve the situation. The most important thing in managing your child's attendance to school is to stay in touch with us. Report absence straight away and every day your child is at home. All absence should be reported online here.

Policy and procedure

Parents and carers are required in law to ensure that their child receives a full and effective education. For most people, this means making sure that young people attend school every day and on time. It is important that you understand your rights and responsibilities to avoid getting into trouble. You can find out all about our attendance processes here.

Understanding school anxiety and refusal

It can be exhausting for young people and their parents or carers when they feel anxious about school. Mornings can become really stressful for the whole family, as you try to juggle your child’s feelings alongside the need to get them to school and get on with your other responsibilities.

What makes young people feel anxious about school?

Young people can feel anxious about school for lots of different reasons. They might be worried about making friends or fitting in, find lessons too difficult, or struggle to sustain relationships with peers or staff. Sometimes, going through difficult experiences outside of school – such as bereavement, an illness in the family or being a young carer – can also make it harder for a child to feel settled at school.

For some young people, the school environment just isn’t right for them, and trying to fit into it can create a huge amount of stress. This might be the case if a child has Additional Learning Needs.

Signs of emotionally-based school avoidance

Young people might show they’re feeling anxious about school by:

  • not wanting to get up and get ready
  • saying they can’t go
  • worrying a lot about small issues, such as having the right equipment for a lesson
  • feeling sick, or having stomach aches or headaches
  • not sleeping well
  • not doing schoolwork, or their grades dropping
  • being angry or upset, or acting out – at school or at home
  • withdrawing – seeming low, quiet or depressed

Support strategies

There are lots of things that the school can do to support young people to attend school. Our website provides plenty of information about our approach to safeguarding, wellbeing, behaviour and pupil support.

Parents and carers can try the following strategies if they are concerned that their child might be experiencing emotionally-based school avoidance:

Having a routine for getting up, getting dressed, having breakfast and leaving the house can create a sense of security and reduce stress for you too. Try to prepare things like checking their timetable, packing bags and laying out clothes the night before. In the morning, focus on the one thing they need to do next as you work your way through the timetable, rather than thinking about a big goal like ‘getting to school’.

Young people might like to fill a box with things that help them feel calm, known as a self-soothe box. They might find it helpful to use mindfulness apps or to put together a soothing morning music playlist.

Having time to unwind after school can be important. This could be spending time with friends and family, listening to music, going for a walk or run, playing sport, baking, drawing or watching a favourite film.

Notice small successes such as getting out of bed at the right time or handing work in at school – and tell your child you’re really impressed with them.

Speaking to friends online can be really important if your child is feeling isolated at home. However, screen time can get in the way of other important daily activities like spending quality time with family, learning, or sleeping and eating well. It's best if the whole family leaves phones downstairs before going to bed so that there can be no distractions at night.

On some days your child may not be able to manage schoolwork or homework. Remember their mood will go up and down and you can always try again the next day. Homework never needs to be the cause for tension at home - if your child is struggling, just let us know.

Remember to recognise the impact this situation is having on you, and reach out to trusted family and friends for support. Say ‘yes’ to offers of help, including other people helping with transport to school or providing relaxing and enriching experiences for your child.

Further advice, guidance and support

YoungMinds

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people's mental health. YoungMinds wants to see a world where no young person feels alone with their mental health, and all young people get the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what. Their website provides fantastic advice about a range of issues affecting young people:

Our school trusts the support offered by YoungMinds because it is based on the lived experiences of children and their parents and carers. Please do take time to visit their parent page or access the parent support helplines.

Stay in touch

If you are worried about your child's attendance to school, please contact us.

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