Returning to school after the lockdown

The lockdown has been challenging for all families, with some having been affected more due to their own vulnerabilities and circumstances. Undoubtedly the experiences of lockdown may present challenges when preparing a child to return to school.

School staff have a wealth of experience in supporting transition, and will ensure that all pupils receive the most appropriate tailored support, in their return at the beginning of the new academic year.

Parents who have concerns regarding their situation and vulnerabilities need to contact the school and have a full and candid dialogue with the Headteacher who can then see exactly what provision needs to be put in place. The school may need to consider a risk assessment that may be necessary for the child returning to school.

The government expects parents to send their children to school full time. The Local Authority attendance team will continue to offer advice, and support schools to ensure that they adopt a supportive and nurturing approach in the first instance before any type of legal interventions are considered. However on the occasion that it is clear that all possible interventions have been offered and there are no other reasonable grounds to explain the absence then the attendance team may become involved to ensure the child’s attendance improves to a more suitable level.

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Information about school attendance in Cambridgeshire

If your child is registered at a school he/she must by law attend that school regularly and punctually. Your child should only miss school if he/she is ill or unable to attend for some other unavoidable reason, including self-isolation as a consequence of COVID. 

If your child is absent and school either does not receive an explanation from you, or considers the explanation unsatisfactory, it will record your child’s absence as ‘unauthorised’.

Key information

A child becomes of compulsory school age when they reach the age of five and, where a parent has elected to register their child at school, they must start school in the term following their fifth birthday at the latest (although parents of many children choose to send them earlier). A child continues to be of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June in the school year that they reach the age of 16. After this age, the legal requirement to participate in education or training will fall to the young person.

Your child’s school will authorise most absences for acceptable reasons:
  • sickness
  • unavoidable medical or dental appointments (if possible, arrange these for after school or during school holidays)
  • days of religious observance
  • requirements to self-isolate (as advised by Public Health Service England)

Your rights and responsibilities

  • You have a legal duty to ensure that your child receives an appropriate education.
  • If your child is registered at a school, you must ensure that they attend.

What you can do

Make sure your child arrives at school on time. This encourages habits of good timekeeping and lessens any possible classroom disruption. If your child arrives after the register has closed without a good reason, this will be recorded as an ‘unauthorised’ absence for that session.

If your child has to miss school, it is vital that you let the school know why, preferably on the first morning of the absence (your child’s school will have an attendance policy explaining how this should be done).

If you know or think that your child is having difficulties attending school, you should contact the school. It is better to do this sooner rather than later, as most problems can be dealt with very quickly.