Every day matters - families urged to prioritise attendance in new school year

With the new school year fast approaching, Hampshire County Council is encouraging families to do all they can to support regular school attendance for their children.

Aug 29 2023

While rates of school attendance are improving locally, there is still more to do to match the levels typically seen before the Covid-19 pandemic. Educational specialists advise that attending school every day, unless unwell, is best for children to ensure that the solid foundations for their future education and employment can be laid. It is also one of the best ways of protecting a child’s mental and physical health.

Councillor Steve Forster, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “Children have experienced prolonged disruption in recent years to their learning, and to their mental health and emotional wellbeing. In Hampshire, as across the country, we are still experiencing the after-effects of this as children continue to catch up on lost time in school.

“With that in mind, it is now more important than ever for children to be regularly attending school where they can develop emotionally as well as academically, and where they can forge the social skills and independence that will prove so important as they begin to grow into young adults. We know that the first few days back in school are especially crucial in paving the way for a successful year and so we are urging families to prioritise attendance from the very beginning of the new school year in September, to help their children make the strongest possible start from day one.

“We do understand that daily attendance isn’t always possible for medical reasons or for a small number of children with particular special educational needs. If families are experiencing challenges with attendance or have any concerns, they should speak with their child’s school at the earliest opportunity to discuss the support available.”

Regular attendance requires parents and carers, children, and school staff to work together. Staying connected with schools means parents and carers can quickly identify any potential difficulties their child may be facing and understand the support available. Families can take various steps to support school attendance, including:

  • creating opportunities for children to talk about their time at school
  • staying up to date with all communications from school
  • attending school open evenings and functions, and letting the school know if this is not possible due to barriers like work, childcare, transport, or health issues
  • checking that children understand and are regularly completing their homework, and speaking with their child’s school if they or their child are encountering issues with completing the homework that has been set
  • avoiding school absences where possible – for example, by arranging GP and dental appointments outside of school hours
  • building consistent bedtime routines – sleeping well, for the right length of time, helps improve energy levels, mood and concentration
  • establishing good morning routines at home to help children arrive at school on time, having had a good breakfast and ready to start the day
  • staying alert to signs of distress or challenging behaviours in response to going to school, and reaching out for help as soon as possible if there are any concerns

Councillor Forster added: “We know that there is a very strong link between attendance and attainment. Evidence shows that 90 per cent of young people with absence rates below 85 per cent do not go on to achieve five or more good GCSE grades, and around one third achieve no GCSEs at all. Achieving well at GCSE level can help to open many more doors for young people later on and this, in turn, will improve their overall life chances, as well as their long-term wellbeing. While exams may seem like a long time away for some families, it is important to establish good habits from the outset to help unlock as many opportunities as possible for children in the future.”

The County Council’s website provides advice and guidance on school attendance including parental responsibilities; how schools record attendance; and what to do if a child is unwell or expected to be away from school for a long period of time.