School Attendance

Regular school attendance has a positive effect on children and young people and a strong impact on learner outcomes, standards and progression. Within this, regular attendance supports the development of literacy and numeracy skills, and on the conceptual understanding needed for further study and success in the workplace. Analysis shows that examination outcomes link strongly to attendance rates, for example, where a modest increase in absence can lower outcomes. Lessons missed can mean missing key information, skills and ideas. Good attendance also has a positive effect on emotional and physical wellbeing.

Establishing good attendance patterns from an early age is vital for social development. For example, the more time a child spends with other children in the classroom and as part of broader school-organised activities, the more chance they have of making friends, of feeling included, and of developing social skills, confidence and self-esteem. Conversely, extended absence from school is linked with behavioural and social problems. These effects can be long lasting and can affect a young person’s mental health and their long-term life chances. Absences can start a negative cycle, where learners start to be absent for reasons such as bullying or not coping with school work, with prolonged absence only likely to make the situation harder to resolve. The inter-relationship between attendance and wellbeing is considered so strong that attendance is often considered a proxy measure for learner wellbeing. Attending school also supports learners’ wider development as full and rounded members of society.

The Curriculum for Wales is based on four purposes that demonstrate the breadth of the academic, wellbeing and social benefits that learners gain by attending school. Because of the well-established links between attendance and attainment, wellbeing and citizenship, improving attendance has long been an important policy aim for governments, local authorities and individual schools.

Internationally, the advantages of education are such that the right to a comprehensive range of education and learning opportunities is one of the seven core aims of the Welsh Government based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

All learners and their parents should be made aware of who they can speak to if they are unhappy in school, and they should be encouraged to do so at the earliest possible time to prevent escalation. There are a number of issues that may be preventing learners from attending a mainstream setting, such as mental health or behaviour challenges, and in some cases alternative arrangements such as local authority home tuition or attending a PRU may be appropriate. But any such arrangements should generally be only a short-term measure and for the vast majority of leaners, the long term goal should always be to return learners to their usual place of education as soon as practicable. It is well established that factors such as poverty, additional learning needs and certain protected characteristics are associated with learners having a greater risk of absence from school and can exacerbate the challenges they already face. Promoting good attendance is, therefore, particularly important in these cases. Attending school is also crucial from a safeguarding perspective, ensuring that children are seen, safe and heard, and not exploited. Active follow-up of absence is a major element in their care and protection. This is one of the main reasons why recording and monitoring attendance accurately is so important.

There is no statutory minimum level of attendance specified in legislation. Traditionally, good attendance depends on circumstances, but is usually taken to be around 95%

The Welsh Government has recently reviewed its guidance on improving school attendance and the link can be found below:

Improving school attendance: easy read | GOV.WALES


Education Welfare Service

The Education Welfare Service in Blaenau Gwent is responsible for ensuring that parents carry out their legal duty to ensure that their children receive a suitable education.

The service is responsible for:

  • school attendance
  • exclusions from school
  • Hard to Place Protocol
  • child employment
  • children in entertainment
  • children missing education
  • elective home education

Contact details are:

Education Welfare Service
Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council
Anvil Court
Church Street
Blaenau Gwent
NP13 1SF

Telephone: 01495 311556


Education Welfare Service Leaflet. 

Referrals to the Education Welfare Service

The Education Welfare Service accepts referrals in line with the referral criteria on the understanding that the referral to us has been discussed with parent/carer (and students where appropriate).

If no contact has been made with the responsible adult, please enter the reasons in the appropriate areas. The school should have taken some action to remedy the situation prior to any request.

The following will be required before starting this form: 

  • Copies of letters sent to the child's home
  • Details of conversations from telephone calls and meetings.
  • Attendance certificate 

Find out more about our education welfare officers who will contact you if your child is referred as missing school.

Officers’ responsibilities

Our education welfare officers have a legal responsibility to monitor school attendance and to take court action against parents whose children fail to attend school regularly.

Parents’ responsibilities

As a parent, you're legally responsible for ensuring that your children receive a suitable education. You can do this by registering your child at a school and ensuring that they regularly attend that school. If you choose to home educate your child, we have to be satisfied that the education the children are receiving at home is suitable.

You can help to ensure your children’s regular attendance at school by:

  • encouraging your children to attend school regularly and on time
  • taking in interest in your children’s education and life at school
  • communicating with your children’s school to discuss any emerging issues or problems
  • notifying your children’s school on the first day of any absence
  • not arranging any family holidays during term time
  • not arranging any medical appointments during the school day

How our education welfare officers work

Schools can refer children who don’t attend school regularly to an education welfare officer. You can also contact an education welfare officer directly. Other agencies such as health, social care and the police may also refer children.

If your child is referred for non attendance, an education welfare officer will contact you and arrange to meet. The officer will remind the you that you are legally responsible for ensuring your child attends school regularly and advise you that unless your child’s attendance improves, you may be prosecuted in the magistrate's court, where you can be fined, or in some circumstances, imprisoned. The education welfare officer will of course want to avoid this and will offer to work with you, offering support and advice which may help return your child to regular attendance.

The education welfare officer will usually give you up to a maximum of 12 weeks to improve your child’s school attendance. If, after 12 weeks, this has not been achieved, the officer will, unless there are exceptional mitigating circumstances, notify you that a summons for you to appear in court will be issued.

Improving a child’s attendance

Education Welfare officers will work with you and your children to identify ways of improving school attendance. They may suggest:

  • meetings in school
  • strategies which might support you and your child
  • referrals to other services

Officers will keep in regular contact with you and will keep written records of what has been discussed and agreed. They will expect you to agree targets for improvement and will review progress.

They will also keep in close contact with your child’s school.

Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA)

Emotionally-based school avoidance (EBSA) is a term used to describe reduced or nonattendance at school by a child or young person due to emotional, mental health or wellbeing issues. EBSA is different from school refusal, as it recognises that the avoidance has its root in emotional issues. Children and young people may avoid school to preserve emotional security by shielding themselves from stress, threats or social isolation. EBSA may be the result of an interplay between personal, family, school, or wider environmental issues.

The guidance for schools is based on factors that are associated with positive outcomes for pupils experiencing EBSA.  These include (Baker & Bishop, 2015):

  • intervening early
  • working collaboratively with pupils and the adults supporting them at school and home
  • working in a flexible manner, paying attention to the individual case and function served by non-attendance.
  • emphasising the need for rapid return to school, alongside good support and adaptations within the school

Please see below leaflets for information and guidance:

Should you have further queries please contact:

Reduced educational provision and alternative provision.

We do not promote the use of partial - timetables unless they are essential, in the best interests of the child and by the local authority, parents or carers in advance of commencing. The guidance on the use of these has been updated and is below. This guidance is to ensure that the application of a reduced-educational provision is time-limited and that re-integration to full-time education occurs swiftly and is appropriate to the pupil’s personal needs, abilities, and circumstances. The guidance relates to pupils of statutory school age who are not in their on-roll setting for 100% of the time, even if they are accessing full time education across multiple settings/Alternative Provisions.

Should your child be offered a partial timetable they will need to complete the necessary paperwork and submit to the local authority for monitoring.  As a parent/carer you will need to sign this paperwork.

Reduced Timetables

Blaenau Gwent has developed guidance for schools, together with resources for use with parents, carers, and pupils.

Court action

If, after 12 weeks, your child’s attendance fails to improve, and there are no exceptional mitigating circumstances, the school attendance officer will begin legal action against you. If you're convicted in court, you may be fined up to £1000. In some circumstances, if you have knowingly allowed your child to be absent from school, you may be fined up to £2,500 or even sent to prison for 3 months.

Returning a child to regular attendance

Hopefully, the need for court action can be avoided and by working together with you, your children and schools, officers can help return children to regular attendance. This is vital if children are to make the most of the educational opportunities available to them.


If you would like an education welfare officer to contact you, please email

Education Welfare Service Referral Form.

When the local authority must be informed of a pupil's absence

The term ‘school’ includes those that are maintained by the local authority, free schools, independent schools and providers of alternative education.

What every school needs to do when a pupil hasn’t attended continuously for either 10 school days when an absence is unauthorised or 15 school days or more if the absences are either authorised or unauthorised.

Section 19 of the Education Act 1996 places a duty on local authorities to make suitable alternative education for children of statutory school age who cannot attend school because of illness, exclusion or any other reason (otherwise). 


What do you do?

We encourage parents to arrange a meeting at school to look at positive ways forward.

We may be able to support parents at this meeting or give support by telephone.

We can also arrange an office visit where we can meet with you and gather more information about your concerns and your understanding of what strategies have been used.

Further information

Further information, including the full exclusions guidance for schools, statutory responsibilities and legislation are available on the Welsh Government website.

Fixed term exclusions

Fixed term exclusion is one of the punishments a school can give if a child does something that is against the school's behaviour policy (the school rules).

It means that your child is not allowed on the school site for a defined period. Most fixed term exclusions are for short periods of 5 days or less. Pupils who misbehave at lunchtime may be excluded for lunchtime only. Each lunchtime exclusion counts as a half-day exclusion.

Fixed period exclusion does not have to be for a continuous period. This might apply if a pupil attends college or other off-site provision for part of the week.

An individual pupil may not be given more than 45 days of fixed term exclusions in any one school year.

The Governing Body

A summary of the governing body's duties to review the headteacher's exclusion decision.

1. Will the exclusion result in the pupil missing a public exam or NCT?

Yes: The governing body must convene a meeting within 15 days of receiving notice of the exclusion to consider the exclusion. However, the governing body must take reasonable steps to meet before the date of the exam or NCT.

No: Go to number 2.

2. Is the exclusion permanent?

Yes: The governing body must convene a meeting within 15 days of receiving notice of the exclusion to consider the exclusion.

No: Go to number 3.

3. Will the pupil have had more than 15 days of exclusion this term?

Yes: The governing body must convene a meeting within 15 days of receiving notice of the exclusion to consider the exclusion.

No: Go to number 4.

4. Will the pupil have had more than 5 days of exclusion this term?

No: The governing body must consider any representations made by parents but cannot overturn the headteacher's decision.

Yes: Go to number 5.

5. Have the pupil's parents made representations about the exclusion?

No: The governing body is not required to consider the exclusion and cannot overturn the headteacher's decision.

Yes: The governing body must convene a meeting within 15 days of receiving notice of the exclusion to consider the exclusion.

Permanent exclusions

Permanent exclusion is the most serious punishment a school can give if a child does something that is against the school’s behaviour policy (the school rules).

It means that the child is no longer allowed to attend the school and their name will be removed from the school roll. Permanent exclusion should only be used as a last resort.

Unofficial exclusions


Parents sometimes call us and say their child has been sent home from school; they may have been told it is “just to cool off” and they have never received an official letter regarding the exclusion. These are all classed as “unofficial” exclusions which are unlawful.

Why do parents agree to this?

  • They may not want it recorded on their child’s school record.
  • They are worried if they do not agree to this the school may permanently exclude their child.
  • They just want a quiet life with no fuss.

What are the benefits of an exclusion being made official?

  • If there is no official record of an exclusion it doesn’t highlight the fact there are difficulties and it appears as if the school are managing the child’s behaviour.
  • If nothing is recorded or evidenced a parent or carer may lose the right to speak to, or appeal to, the Governors of the school.
  • The appropriate support agencies may not be involved if exclusion is managed this way, as it would appear there are no problems.
  • Parents or carers will be unaware of the fine that can be imposed if a child is seen in a public place when they are excluded.
  • Unofficial exclusion is unlawful.

Government Guidance

If a school cannot manage a child and requests that the child be removed from site, then it should only be done as an official exclusion.

Exclusion legislation does not provide for “informal” or “unofficial” exclusions, such as sending pupils home to “cool off”. Pupils of compulsory school age are entitled to a full-time education. Removing a pupil from the school without a legal basis in unlawful, regardless of whether it occurs with the agreement of parents or carers. Any exclusion of a pupil, even for short periods of time, must be formally recorded. Formally arranged part-time timetables may be necessary as a temporary measure in exceptional circumstances to meet pupils’ needs but must not be used as a disciplinary sanction.

As a parent or carer, you can ask for any exclusion to be made official and request a re-integration meeting in school when your child returns.

Within our local authority, the provision of education for permanently excluded pupils is determined by Vulnerable Learner Panel.


Our commissioned service provides online teaching for children and young people of statutory school age and who are on the roll of a school, who due to illness require suitable alternative arrangements for their education whilst unwell.

See also


Schools have a legal responsibility under Regulation 12 of the ‘Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010’ (link above) to make us aware when a pupil has been absent for 10 or more continuous sessions of unauthorised absence.

Section 19 of the Education Act 1996 also requires that where a pupil has been absent for a continuous period of 15 school days (authorised or unauthorised) we assess whether we need to step in and provide education ourselves.

When we receive the notification from school, we will assess whether the child meets the criteria for us to step in and provide Section 19 Education under the ‘Otherwise’ category, or advise a school that it take another form of action. If you have taken any of the following actions, you do not need to notify the local authority. A referral to either the Vulnerable Learner Panel, your Education Welfare Officer (not a Penalty Notice request) or have made a Child Missing Education referral.

We will only provide education under the ‘Otherwise’ category if we assess that it is not possible for a child to receive a suitable education at their current school.

When we receive the notification, we will check that a school has looked at all other reasonable alternatives for providing the pupil with a suitable and full-time education which is likely to include alternatives such as changes to the timetable where appropriate and/or the provision of an alternative curriculum.

Where we do have to step in and support it is likely that we will request the school provides the appropriate level of AWPU funding for the period of time we've taken responsibility for the pupil's education.

Please contact your Education Welfare Officer or email if you would like further support or advice.

School Attendance is everyone’s responsibility

Blaenau Gwent Attendance Policy

Pastoral Support Plan Guidance

Fixed Penalty Code of Conduct

A Parent’s Guide to Prosecutions

Family Holidays in term time

Frequently asked questions

Definition of a parent