Children building blocks

Encouraging regular school attendance is one of the most powerful ways you can prepare your child for success – both in school and in life.

We believe our pupils are capable of amazing things and want them to have every opportunity to achieve this success.

Ensuring excellent attendance requires partnership; you can help us to help your child by encouraging regular school attendance.

Going to school every day means:

●      Lots of opportunities for learning new skills

●      Developing a  better understanding of themselves and the world

●      Making  friends and building lasting relationships

●      Developing  healthy life habits

●      Feeling  connected to the school community

●      Taking part  in exciting and memorable activities

●       Having lots of fun!


All children  aged between 5 and 16 are required by law to receive an education, and it is the duty of parents and carers to ensure that they are supported to do so. 

"Research shows that children with higher attendance at school achieve better both in their exams and in later life."

Our guide to attendance

  • Research shows that children with higher attendance at school achieve better both in their exams and in later life.
  • A two-week holiday in term time will automatically drop attendance to 95%, and can have a severe impact on children who might not find learning easy.
  • 90% attendance is the equivalent to one month off every school year. Over the seven years of primary school, this is the same as missing almost one whole school year!
  • Children who have persistently poor attendance can suffer more commonly from friendship issues and find it harder to build lasting relationships.
  • You can be fined and prosecuted if your child’s attendance becomes a serious issue.

Children are required to attend school. The Government’s target for attendance for primary school pupils is at least 96%. How does your child’s attendance compare with this target? The table below indicates how just a few days absence can result in children missing a significant number of lessons. It has been proven that children who miss a lot of school achieve less.

10 Days
2 Weeks
50 Lessons
19 Days
4 Weeks
100 Lessons
29 Days
6 Weeks
150 Lessons
38 Days
8 Weeks
200 Lessons
48 Days
10 Weeks
250 Lessons
57 Days
11 1/2 Weeks
290 Lessons
67 Days
13 1/2 Weeks
340 Lessons

If we are concerned about your child’s attendance because it is low, we will contact you to let you know. At the end of each half term we review attendance and will contact parents where this has fallen below 90%, which the Government defines as 'persistent absence'. We may also invite you in to discuss the situation with Ms Sprakes, the Headteacher, so we can better understand your current situation and any barriers to improved attendance.


​If attendance is persistently below 90%, we will refer the matter to Southwark Local Authority Education Inclusion Team, a team of senior education welfare officers who provide targeted assessment and intervention for attendance issues. They are able to issue fines and take legal action where required.

When a child arrives late at school, they miss important events like assembly, teacher instructions and introductions. Children also feel embarrassed at having to enter the classroom late.

The table below indicates how frequent lateness can add up to a considerable amount of learning being lost. This can seriously disadvantage children and disrupt the learning of others. Please help children in your care to be punctual.

5 Minutes
3 1/2 Days
17 Lessons
10 Minutes
7 Days
35 Lessons
15 Minutes
10 1/2 Days
52 Lessons
20 Minutes
14 Days
70 Lessons
25 Minutes
21 Days
104 Lessons

In school we encourage everyone to do their very best to come to school every day and on time.


The school will:

  • Promote the importance of attendance and punctuality with our pupils through our learning, and during assemblies
  • Expect regular attendance and commitment to school activities if your child is going to be asked to represent the school, for example, sporting fixtures and music performances
  • Tell you about your child’s attendance during parents meetings and through your child’s annual report
  • Work closely with parents/carers where achild’s absence/punctuality is a cause for concern
  • Support our pupils to achieve excellent attendance and punctuality
  • Support children and their families to return to school after a prolonged absence

What can parents do?

  • Ensure your child is getting enough sleep - children of primary school age need around 10 to 12 hours a night. This will make the following day at school easier for them.
  • Help your child develop routines for homework/reading/bedtime.
  • Encourage children to get their schoolbag ready the night before.
  • Having breakfast helps children stay alert at school.
  • Where possible, try to make sure that any medical/dental appointments are made for after school or during the school holidays.
  • Talk positively about school and coming to school

Every half-day absence from school has to be recorded by the school as either authorised or unauthorised.This is why information about the cause of any absence is always required.


Authorised absences are time away from school for a good reason like illness (where a child is too ill to attend school), medical appointments which unavoidably fall in school time, emergencies or observing a religious festival. Only the school has the authority to authorise an absence.


Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider reasonable and for which no ‘leave’ has been given. This type of absence can lead to the local authority using fines and/or legal proceedings.


​​If your child is absent and we do not hear from you we will:

●     Call the numbers we have on file for you

●     Call the emergency contacts you have given, if we cannot get through to you

●     Visit your home if we cannot get in touch with anyone

●     Refer to the Police if we cannot make contact. This is an important safeguarding duty.


Absence due to illness

Everyone is unwell at times and needs to stay at home to get better. If your child is absent due to illness you must tell the school as soon as possible. You should do this by calling the school office number, 020 83534290. You must call us on the first day of absence and any further days that your child is absent. It is important to do this every day so we know where your child is. You will need to explain details of any illness - telling us your child is ‘not feeling well' is not enough information.


We recognise that some of our pupils have medical conditions or disabilities that necessitate them having more than the average number of days off school. Where a pupil has no known diagnosis and misses many days due to sickness absence over a period of time, we may request medical evidence in order to authorise any further absence. We would always give plenty of warning, opportunities for discussion and support from other agencies where we can for families, before that decision is taken.


Medical appointments

If it is possible, please arrange for medical appointments to be outside of school time. However, if this is not possible or if you have had to attend in an emergency, you must show evidence of your child's appointment. This can be an appointment card or letter, a prescription that has been issued on the day, a text message appointment reminder, or evidence that you called the surgery to speak to someone and take advice. We will never ask your GP to write a letter, or ask you to show us confidential medical records.


Secondary induction days/taster days/interviews/entrance examinations

These are most likely to happen during the autumn term, the beginning of the spring term, and towards the end of the summer term. Evidence of being registered for an exam and being invited for interview/induction, must be provided in order to authorise.


Holidays during term time

The policy of the school, the Trust, the local authority and the Government is to say no to holidays during term time. The school will not authorise any absence due to a family going on holiday. ​This includes arriving early to pick up your child on the last day of term or missing the first day of a new term, due to travel arrangements. If it has not been possible for you to return on time you will need evidence to prove why, for example proof that an airline has changed your flight time. We believe there is nothing more important than your child’s education and with 175 days of holiday and weekends, there is plenty of time to go on holiday without missing school. Taking an unauthorised holiday may result in a fine from the local authority.


Absences around a holiday period

We monitor very closely and it is always noted when a child is ill just before or just after a holiday period. If we suspect that you have gone on holiday you risk being issued with a fine by the local authority. We are very thorough in our checking, we will phone parents and carers and will expect to be able to get hold of you. We may also come to visit your home address.

Exceptional term time leave

This is when you need to take your child out of school during term time because you cannot avoid it.The Headteacher is the only person who can authorise exceptional leave. Requests should be made by completing an Exceptional Term Time Leave RequestForm - you can get this from the school office. Examples of exceptional leave are:


Religious observance

We recognise that there may be times where children of different faiths observe religious festivals that fall outside of school holidays and weekends, and will consider authorising absence for these times. This covers important events in the calendars of the six main world religions, such as Eid or Orthodox Christmas.We expect parents to be aware of these dates well in advance and to request absence ahead of time.



External educational opportunities

Some of our children take additional classes or study additional skills outside of their time at school. This is something the Belham greatly encourages. If time is needed to sit an exam for these activities, or appear in a public performance then this is considered to be special leave. Evidence of the date and time of the exam/trial, or a performance license, in the case of appearing in a public performance, will be needed in order to authorise.


Wedding or funeral of an immediate family member

Evidence must be provided, for example an invitation or order of service.


If you believe you have a very good reason to take your child out of school during term time, and it has not been listed above, please complete an Exceptional Term Time Leave Request Form giving full details.


The child's absence will be unauthorised.

The absences for those children who are not unwell will be unauthorised.

Please send your child to school. If they are truly ill we will ring you. When deciding whether or not your child is too ill to attend school, the NHS 'Is my child too ill for school?' web page has some great advice.


Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my child well enough to do the activities of the school day?
  • Does my child have a condition that could be passed on to other children or school staff?
  • Would I take a day off work if I had this condition?