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We want every child and young person in Oldham to have the best possible start in life.

As part of this, we expect all students to have at least 95% attendance each year. Schools may expect an even higher level.

You can play a big role in this as a parent, guardian, or carer. You can do this by ensuring your child has the best attendance at school, so they can reach their full potential.

Why is school attendance important?

Evidence tells us that good school attendance helps a child's academic achievement. This includes their Key Stage, GCSE, and A-Level results.

Good school attendance is also important for a child's general well-being and wider development. At school, they meet different people and make long-lasting friendships.

If your child isn’t in class regularly, they are more likely to fall behind. This can hurt their future job prospects.

Good school attendance shows employers that a young person is reliable. They are also more likely to do well and play a positive role in their community. So, being in school is key to their next steps.

Attendance at primary school

Good school attendance matters from the very beginning – not just in secondary education.

If your child regularly misses primary school from an early age, they are missing the opportunity to learn basic skills such as literacy and numeracy.

It can affect their wider development too. Primary education is key in nurturing a child’s social, cognitive, emotional, and physical skills.

Without these basics, children can often be at a disadvantage in secondary school. So, it's important to encourage good school attendance from an early age.

You have a legal duty to ensure your child gets a full time-education.

What if my child needs to miss school?

Schools will only approve a child's absence in a few cases. Your child must attend every day that the school is open, unless: 

  • Your child is too ill to attend. 
  • You have asked in advance and been given permission by the school for your child to be absent on a specific day due to exceptional circumstances. 
  • Your child cannot go to school on a specific day because they are observing a religious event. 
  • Oldham Council is responsible for arranging your child’s transport to school and it’s not available.
  • Your child does not have a permanent address and you are required to travel for work. This exception only applies if your child attends their usual school or another school where you are staying as often as possible. This must be 200 half days or more a year if they are aged 6 or older.  

These are the only circumstances in which schools can allow your child to be absent.

If your child can't attend school for one of these reasons, you must tell the school by telephone or letter. The school will then "authorise" this absence.

What counts as an exceptional circumstance? 

Your child’s school decides what counts as an exceptional circumstance.

Schools consider each application, including the specific facts and background context. If absence is authorised, the school will decide how long the pupil can be away from school. 

Holidays are very rarely an acceptable reason for a school absence. They are unlikely to be seen as exceptional.  

Unauthorised absences

If your child has missed three days of school without any contact, the school may call or send a letter to ask why.

The letter could tell you that your child has been missing school, without a reason. The school may record this as "unauthorised" absence.  You may be prosecuted by the Education Attendance Service and issued a penalty notice.

How can we help your child’s attendance?

The council provides expert support and advice to schools, families, and pupils. It covers all matters related to attendance through our Education Attendance Service.

If your child struggles to attend school or you want more advice on how we can help you and your child, contact us at 0161 770 6620 or email