Excellent attendance is extremely important to us at St John's. There is a direct link between a student’s attendance and what they achieve. We see this at St John's every year; students with good attendance make more progress than those with poor attendance. Regular attendance and being punctual will help students in their adult lives by preparing them to enter the world of work. Good attendance at school will also help students to develop social skills, make friends, and help them to communicate well with others.  We want every student to aim for 100% attendance.  If attendance falls to 90% or below, students are classed by the government as being a persistent absentee. 

Why is regular attendance so important?

Being in school every day that it is open, is important to your child’s achievement, wellbeing, and their wider development.

Here’s what the data shows:

  • Pupils with higher attainment at KS4 had lower levels of absence over the key stage compared to those with lower attainment.
  • Pupils who did not achieve grade 9 to 4 in English and maths GCSEs in 2019 had an overall absence rate of 8.8% over the key stage, compared with 5.2% among pupils who achieved a grade 4 and 3.7% among pupils who achieved grade 9 to 5 in both English and maths.
  • Generally, the higher the percentage of sessions missed across the key stage KS4, the lower the level of attainment at the end of the key stage.
  • Among students with no missed sessions over KS4, 83.7% achieved grades 9 to 4 in English and maths compared to 35.6% of pupils who were persistently absent

When can my child be absent from school?

When you register your child at school, you have a legal duty to ensure your child attends that school regularly.

This means that your child must attend every day that the school is open, unless:

  • Your child is too ill to attend that day.
  • You have asked in advance and been given permission by the school for your child to be absent on that day due to exceptional circumstances.
  • Your child cannot attend school on that day because it is a day you are taking part in religious observance
  • Your local authority is responsible for arranging your child’s transport to school and it is not available on that day or has not been provided yet; or
  • You are a gypsy/traveller family with no fixed abode, and you are required to travel for work that day meaning your child cannot attend their usual school. In most circumstances, however, your child is required to attend another school temporarily during such absences.

These are the only circumstances where schools can permit your child to be absent.

Is my child too ill for school?

The NHS has useful guidance to help answer this question.

What do I need to do if my child needs to be absent from school for one of the reasons stated above?

You should contact St John's as early as possible to explain why. If not, we will contact you on the first morning of their absence to find out why.

All parents can request a ‘leave of absence’ for their child which gives them permission to be absent from school. Leaves of absence must be applied for before your child will be absent and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Ms Byron, the headteacher, has the final say over whether to approve the request and how long your child can be absent.

Her decision will be made after considering the specific facts and circumstances behind your request.

Can I take my child on holiday during term time?

Parents should plan their holidays around school breaks and avoid requesting leaves of absence for holidays unless it is unavoidable.

As leave of absence is only granted in exceptional circumstances, it is unlikely that your child’s headteacher will agree a leave of absence for a family holiday.

If permission is refused and you keep your child off school on the days requested, you are likely to be committing an offence and be issued a fixed penalty notice or be prosecuted by your local authority.

Where can I get support to help my child attend school?

Children may struggle to attend school for a wide range of reasons.

If your child is struggling to attend school we are keen to help you to support your child’s attendance.

If your child’s attendance level is falling, we will contact you to explore the reasons and discuss what help can be put in place to help you overcome the barriers they are facing.

If your child is struggling to attend school, we will meet with you and your child.  We will want to understand the reasons for their absence and what support you or they need to overcome the barriers to attendance they are experiencing.

If the barriers to your child’s attendance are in school – such as they are having friendship problems – we will work with you to help overcome the issues.

If the barriers to attendance you or your child are facing go beyond the remit of St John's – such as a transport or a mental health issue – both the school and local authority will still try to help you. This includes helping you to access the wider support you might need, for example from the school nurse or from local housing or transport teams.

As part of the conversation you have with us, you will agree a set of joint actions to help overcome any barriers to attendance.

This agreement will often include a commitment to refer or help you to access support services in exchange for an agreement from you to engage and take part in the support offered. We will also arrange mutual convenient times for you to come together to review these and your child’s progress.

This agreement may take the form of an informal action plan, an early help plan, or a parenting contract – depending on the complexity of the reasons for your child’s absence.


At St John's we expect students to be at their year group's congregation area by 8.50am.  Students arriving after this time are considered to be late and will receive a late mark and parents or carers will be informed of this via the 'my child at school' app or by email.  The only exceptions to this are if you have negotiated a late arrival with school or if lateness is due to Durham Local Authority transport delays.  An accumulation of five late marks will result in a one hour after-school detention.  If a student is frequently late then we will arrange a meeting with you to discuss how this can be resolved.