Caton Primary School is a successful school and every child plays their part in making it so. We recognise that attending school regularly, and on time, has a positive impact on learning, progress and therefore the best life chances for our children. Our target attendance for all children is at least 97% across the academic school year.

Missing out on lessons leaves children vulnerable to falling behind and government research shows that those with poor attendance and punctuality tend to achieve less academically. Good attenders also make better progress socially, learn to work with others, and are better prepared for the transition to secondary school and, eventually, higher education, training and employment. Absence or late arrival also disrupts teaching routines and so may affect the learning of others in the same class.

Authorised and unauthorised absence

Every half-day absence from school is classified as either authorised or unauthorised. This is why information about the cause of any absence is always required from parents/carers. As a school, we will always work with parents, and other agencies as appropriate, to understand the reasons underlying absence.

Authorised absences are mornings or afternoons away from school for a good reason, for example:

  • Medical or dental appointments, which relate directly to the pupil and unavoidably fall during the school day – evidence may be required prior to authorisation.
  • Illness of the pupil – evidence may be required prior to authorisation.
  • Leave which has been authorised by the headteacher due to exceptional circumstances.

Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider reasonable, for example:

  • Parents keeping children off school unnecessarily including absence / illness of siblings and other family members.
  • Absences which are not explained satisfactorily.
  • Children who arrive at school after the register has closed.
  • Shopping, looking after other children or birthdays.
  • Day trips, leave and holidays in term time which have not been agreed by the headteacher.
  • Days that exceed the amount of leave agreed in exceptional circumstances by the headteacher.

In every instance, it is the headteacher who determines whether an absence is recorded as authorised or unauthorised. This decision is often made based on information provided by parents, however, because the register is a legal document, the headteacher has a responsibility to ensure that it is completed accurately and in accordance with legislation. For this reason, parents may be asked to provide evidence of reasons for absence before authorisation is granted.

Whilst any child may be off school because they are ill, sometimes they can be reluctant to attend school for other reasons like friendship difficulties or when struggling with learning. If your child is reluctant to attend school, please bring them to school and speak to a member of staff so we can resolve the issue(s), rather than trying to cover up their absence, or give in to pressure to let them stay at home. As a school, we will always work with parents, and external agencies as appropriate, to understand and address the reasons behind absence.

Persistent absence

The target attendance level which we aim for at our school is 97%. When a pupil’s attendance is at risk of falling significantly below this level, we will consider whether it is appropriate to offer support in order to improve the situation. We will also use attendance levels from previous academic years to identify patterns and determine what steps may need to be taken to improve.

When a child’s attendance falls below 90%, they are classed as a persistent absentee. Both local and central government pay particular attention to reducing the number of pupils who fall into the persistent absence category (PA).  When attendance nears this level, children will have missed significant amounts of schooling, meaning that their educational progress is put at risk. The headteacher will contact families when attendance is a concern to look at how it can be improved and identify support which may be needed.  Support may involve the need for parents, and children of an appropriate age, to agree to a attendance & parenting contract. Due to the seriousness of PA status, if there is no sustained improvement, such cases will be referred to a local authority, which could result in legal action being taken.


Poor punctuality is a concern. If your child misses the start of the day, they miss out on valuable learning. Being 10 minutes late every day throughout the academic year is the same as missing two weeks of school.

If your child is often late, you will be asked to meet with the headteacher to discuss ways to improve punctuality, but you can approach us at any time if you are having problems getting your child to school on time.

Leave of absence

By law, maintained schools cannot authorise any leave in term time other than in exceptional circumstances. Pupils attend school for a maximum of 190 days each academic year – this leaves 175 days not in school. Taking a child out of school in term time will affect their education and progress as much as any other absence. Regular attendance is vital for your child’s educational progress. The government expects that all parents ensure their children attend school daily and on time.

The Headteacher is the person authorised by the governing body to approve leave of absence requests. Parents must complete the leave of absence form, which are available from the school office, as soon as possible and return to the school office for the attention of the headteacher. At Caton Primary School, no holidays during term time will be approved unless the circumstances are considered to be exceptional. Parents should still complete the leave of absence form prior to making a holiday booking.

Leave of absence will not be granted unless:

  • a request for leave has been made in advance, by a parent with whom the pupil normally resides (using the form on the school website or from the school office), and
  • the headteacher considers that leave of absence should be granted due to the exceptional circumstances relating to the request.

Attendance policy