It is important that parents and carers understand their legal responsibilities in relation to their children's attendance at school. Compulsory school age applies to children between the ages of 5 and 16 years old.
The Education (Guernsey) Law, 1970, places a legal duty on the parents/carers of every child of compulsory school age to ensure that they are receiving efficient full-time education suitable to their age, ability, aptitude and to any special education needs they may have. This can either be by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
The 1970 Law also places a legal responsibility on parents/carers to make sure that their child attends the school they are registered at on a regular basis. If a registered pupil of compulsory school age fails to achieve regular attendance at school, the parent/carer is guilty of an offence and may face prosecution in the Magistrates' Court.
The Benefits of Regular Attendance at School
- Having a good education will help give your child the best possible start to life.
- If your child does not attend school regularly, he/she will not be able to keep up with the work.
- Employers will want to ensure that the people they wish to employ are reliable
- Young people who have not attended school regularly have considerably less choice regarding the type of employment they wish to enter.
- Young people who fail to maintain regular attendance at school for no good reason are at higher risk of becoming victims of crime and/or abuse. They may also be drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour.
Your Child's Health
If you believe that your child is genuinely unwell or has suffered an injury preventing him/her from attending school, you must notify the school on the first day of any period of absence. Should you fail to contact school, your child's absence will be recorded as 'N' - no reason yet provided. After 3 school days this will be substituted with 'O' - unauthorised absence if you have not provided school with an explanation for you child's absence.
When you contact school regarding your child's absence through ill health you will be asked to say when you expect your child to return to school. In the case of minor illnesses this will usually involve only a day or two's absence. However, some illnesses such as flu, bronchitis or a notifiable illness (measles, chicken pox, mumps etc.) may require a pupil to be off school for a week or more. Please keep the school regularly informed of your child's progress.
It is important to note that the recording of authorised medical absence will not automatically continue beyond 3 school days without confirmation for you of your child's continuing ill health.
The School Attendance Service provides further advice and guidance for parents/carers experiencing problems with school attendance. The leaflets available to download give some ways to encourage your child's attendance.
If your child is not attending school regularly your first point of contact should be with the school. Make every effort to speak to a member of staff - your child's class teacher, form tutor, year co-ordinator, deputy headteacher or headteacher - at the point when problems with school attendance first start. The earlier your concerns are shared with the school, the greater the chances of resolving the difficulties.
You can also contact the School Attendance Service on 733000 during office hours (8.30am - 5.00pm).
Holidays in Term Time
Education Services and schools seek to provide high standards and high expectations for all to enable learners to realise their full potential. Education Services' expectation is that all students will achieve an attendance of at least 95%.
Although Guernsey law does not preclude term time holidays, they are not a right. Absence for holiday negatively impacts a child's attendance at school and, as such, Education Services does not approve of them. (For example, a child who misses 10 days of school for a holiday can only achieve a maximum attendance figure of 95% for that school year. Additional leave for illness at any time during the year would drop the child below the expected level.)
It is, therefore, the position of Education Services that holidays in term time will not be authorised.