Pupil Attendance - Advice to Schools

Attendance Webinar Sessions 

During the pandemic the Attendance Service has continued to be reflective of the guidance provided by the DfE and how we use this information to support schools in the development of their practice. This has enabled us as a service to provide an opportunity to both maintained and academy schools, to access free live webinars on topics the Attendance Service feels are relevant and of interest.

The webinars will be presented by experienced Local Authority Attendance Officers and each webinar has a specific target audience e.g. School Attendance Officers/ Leads, SENCo’s and senior members of staff etc.

The Attendance Service hopes that the sessions available to you will be invaluable when developing your good practice and procedures. We encourage all Cambridgeshire schools to access this learning opportunity.

How to conduct a Parent Contract Meeting (PCM) 4 hours – Maximum 15 participants per event

This workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to learn new skills and develop best practice for conducting parent contract meetings, which forms part of the early intervention process for monitoring and managing attendance. This event will provide guidance on how to engage with parents/carers both face to face and through virtual platforms; as well as topics for discussion which are required for the implementation of legal sanctions and successful prosecutions.

Target Audience: Newly appointed and experienced School Attendance Officers/ Leads and Senior Leadership Team.


  • Monday 14th June 2021 - 10am - 2pm
  • Tuesday 29th June 2021 - 10am - 2pm
  • Wednesday 7th July 2021 - 10am - 2pm


  • Tuesday 28th September 2021
  • Wednesday 20th October 2021
  • Monday 8th November 2021
  • Wednesday 1st December 2021

How to support Military families (1.5 hour)

Following the expanding number of pupils from a military background arriving within Cambridgeshire, this webinar outlines the positive examples of how to support military families, where to signpost, how to access existing support within the community and funding. A guest speaker from the Military Covenant will be presenting at this event, to discuss how services are working closely together to support families.

Target Audience: Newly appointed and experienced SENCO’s, Senior Leadership Team, Pastoral & School Attendance Officers


  • Thursday 1st July 2021 – 13.30 – 15.00
  • Tuesday 6th July 2021 – 13.30 – 15.00


  • Tuesday 19th October 2021 – 13.30 – 15.00
  • Wednesday 17th November 2021 – 10.30 – 12.00

Understanding and Analysing Attendance Data (1.5 hour)

This webinar will provide guidance on how to collect and interpret both whole school data and that pertaining to vulnerable groups. Outlining how this can be used to identify trends and patterns concerning Attendance as part of short and long-term planning, which links in with the key aspect of an OFSTED inspection.

Target Audience: Attendance Leads, Senior Leadership Team.

Understanding and Analysing Attendance Data (1.5 hour) Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite

  • Tuesday 21 September 2021 2PM
  • Thursday 7 October 2021 – 1 PM

Child Employment (1.5 hours)

This webinar will outline the legal framework pertaining to secondary school pupils entering into employment whilst still of statuary school age. School and Cambridgeshire County Council work closely together to ensure that pupils participating in employment are safeguarded and prevented from child exploitation. Providing information concerning the legislation, work permits and employment sweeps.

Target Audience: Newly appointed and experienced School Attendance Officers and Leads. YR 10 & 11 Leadership


  • Wednesday 13th October 2021 – 13.30 – 15.00
  • Thursday 25th November 2021 – 10.30 – 12.00
Improving Attendance diagram
Improving Attendance Diagram

Evidence has shown that tackling absence can be most effective when a number of different approaches are taken by schools to encourage attendance. Environmental factors need to be considered and schools need to respond to their own particular problems in a way that works best for them. Schools should have an attendance policy and communicate processes to all staff, parents, students and the community. Schools will be required to take a balanced approach when dealing with attendance matters. They will need to recognise and be mindful of the impact that COVID may have had on both the pupil and the wider family.

Many attendance issues can be resolved by working with parents and children, and schools need to develop an inclusive approach to meet needs as early as possible and deliver appropriate pastoral support interventions. Schools should communicate frequently with parents about positive achievements and improvements, however small, and in ways which emphasis the responsibility and role of parents to ensure that their child receives an education. Before discussing a student’s poor attendance, we recommend establishing a positive relationship with parents whilst being sensitive of their circumstances and needs as a result of COVID.

It is important to not make assumptions concerning young people who have poor attendance, but instead, communicate with the parents/carers and where appropriate follow the relevant referral routes. Absence due to illness needs to be raised sensitively with pupils and their parents with meetings being offered by the school as a way of intervening early and providing support. Most minor illness are self-limiting and do not require contact with a GP. Medical certification for short term illness is not appropriate and should not be requested as standard school policy.

A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice because they are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves; or because they are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus.

Where a pupil is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical and/or public health advice, the DfE expect schools to be able to immediately offer them access to remote education which is monitored for levels of engagement.

Where children are not able to attend school as parents are following clinical and/or public health advice, absence will not be penalised.

In the eventuality of an absence occurring as a consequence of COVID schools are able to use an X code. This code is used to record sessions where the pupil’s travel to or presence at school would conflict with:

  • Guidance relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus from Pubic Health England or the Department of Health and Social Care or
  • Any legislation (or instruments such as statutory directions) relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus

The X code is not to be applied for circumstances concerning behaviour in school or reduced time-tables.

Schools should be mindful that an X code can also be applied to record session where non-compulsory school age children are not expected to attend.

For further information on tackling absence – The role of the school (and early years providers) please see link below: 

2.11 Attendance Processes - Tackling absence - the role of the school SEPTEMBER 2020

The use of a letter system should be used alongside a range of parent and pupil preventative interventions and is intended to enable schools to continuously and consistently monitor and address poor attendance.

The system offers schools the opportunity to target non-attendance methodically and progressively up to and including the point at which a referral to the local authority may be necessary. The system is based on model letters that can be adapted by schools to be sent to parents when there are concerns about any emerging patterns of absenteeism.

For further information on the letter system please see link below:

2.12 – Attendance Processes – Letter System September 2020

Leaflet: School attendance leaflet September 2020 pdf (88 KB)

Sample letters are available below:

5.1 Attendance Policy checklist - May 2021

5.2(a) Example Letter - Authorised Absence Template Letter - May 2021

5.2 (b) Example Letter - Soft Letter - May 2021

5.2(c) Example Letter - Attendance Concern (unauthorised) - May 2021

5.2(d) Example Letter - Invite to PCM Mtg - May 2021

5.2(e) Example Letter - Failed to attend PCM Mtg - Targets Letter _ May 2021

5.2(f) Example Letter - Late Letter - May 2021

5.2(g) Example Letter - Suspected Term Time Leave - May 2021

5.2(h) - Example Letter - Negative Response to Term Time Leave Request - May 2021

The Local Authority has a statutory responsibility to identify, as far as it is possible to do so, children missing education (CME). To ensure that we are satisfying this responsibility as well as investigating cases of poor attendance, all academies, schools and alternative providers will have a named Local Authority Attendance Officer.

Each School will have a full virtual consultation meeting, ideally during the end of the summer term or early autumn term to begin the process of supporting schools to identify the development of operational strategies to reduce levels of non- school attendance.

Cluster meetings will occur virtually throughout the academic year to enable the dissemination of information, advice and guidance activities in relevant attendance related topics. Termly webinars will be available to provide training opportunities to schools to aid the development of best practice.

From September 2020 there will be a helpline telephone service for schools which offers to provide information and advice on general attendance issues and will operate 5 days a week - Monday to Friday - 10am to 4pm during term time.

Email: nsa.helpline@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Helpline telephone number: 01223 715682 

The process of investigation begins when a school makes a referral for the application of a Penalty Notice or Prosecution and the Legal Panel decides that the referral requires further investigation. The investigation is the responsibility of the Local Authority Attendance Officer (LAAO) and ends with the application of a Penalty Notice, the conviction of a parent via the Single Justice Process (SJP) or in cases of an aggravated offence, in the magistrate courts or the withdrawal of the referral.

2.10 - The role of the Local Authority Attendance Officer MAY 2021

Schools should have their own thresholds for taking action where attendance becomes a concern. Avoid waiting for a child’s attendance to slip to 90% or below (the persistent absence threshold). All schools should have whole school strategies where specific members of staff are allocated to different levels of attendance and are alert to drops in attendance.

The Attendance Service recommends implementing a step by step process for early intervention prior to referrals to our service for legal sanctions to be applied, please see link for further information of this process:

2.13 Step by Step - Early Interventions and Referral Process SEPT 2020

Parents need to be made aware of their responsibility to ensure that their child attends school regularly.

Schools are expected to develop a graduated response when engaging parents before the Local Authority will consider a referral for more punitive sanctions.

A parent contract meeting is an opportunity for the school and parent/s to discuss a child’s attendance and to review the impact of school interventions thus far offered. It provides the opportunity for parents to discuss more generally any difficulties which the family are having and types of support that may be helpful to them.

2.14 Guidance Parent Contract Meeting SEPTEMBER 2020

Referral for Term Time Leave

Any parent who takes a child out of school for term time leave for 6 consecutive sessions (3 days) or more, not authorised by the school (under exceptional circumstances rule), may receive a Penalty Notice.

Referral for Penalty Notice for Term Time Leave form

Referral for unauthorised absence - request for the issue of a penalty notice or prosecution (not to be used for term-time leave) 

To be used for:

  • Fast track - at least 8 unauthorised sessions over an 8 school week period (minimum 80 sessions).
  • 90% and below mostly unauthorised over a longer period (must be more than 8 school weeks). 

Unauthorised absence request for the issue of a penalty notice or prosecution online form

Request for Withdrawal of a Penalty Notice - Term Time Leave and Unauthorised Absence

To be used to request the withdrawal of a Penalty Notice issued to parent/carer for both Term Time Leave and Unauthorised Absences

Under the Cambridgeshire County Council Code of Conduct a Penalty Notice may be withdrawn by the County Council, regardless of whom within the authority issued it, if it is deemed that:

  1. a) the notice ought not to have been issued (i.e. where it has been issued outside of the terms of this Code of Conduct or where no offence has been committed); or
  2. b) the notice ought not to have been issued to the person named as the recipient.

Withdrawal is not automatic and by submitting this form your request will be considered by the Attendance Legal Panel and the outcome will be communicated to you.

Please note - Legal Panel sits every Monday with the exception of School Holidays.

Request for the withdrawal of a penalty notice for term time leave and unauthorised absence form

Penalty notice in respect of presence of excluded pupil in public place

When a pupil is excluded from school for either a fixed term or permanently, S.103 Education and Inspections Act 2006 places a duty upon the parent/carer to ensure that the pupil is not present in a public place at any time within school hours during the first five days of their exclusion.

Please note public place is defined as ‘outside the boundary of the school’.

Before submitting this referral: A signed witness statement will be required from the person who saw the pupil in the public place and willing to submit this as part of this Penalty Notice Referral. Guidance on the witness statement can be sought from your linked Local Authority Attendance Officer.

Request needs to be fully completed and submitted to the LA within 15 school days of the child being seen in the public place.

Penalty notice in respect of presence of excluded pupil in public place


Email: nsa.helpline@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Helpline telephone number: 01223 715682 – 5 days a week (Monday to Friday) 10 am to 4 pm during term time