School attendance has improved in Nottingham for the fifth year in row – sending the City higher up national tables for reduced absence.

The number of children missing lessons has fallen from 5.2% in Autumn Term 2013 to 4.6% in Autumn Term 2014.

Statistics published by the Department of Education today (21 May) show:

  • authorised absence in Nottingham has fallen from 3.5% in Autumn 203 to 3.2% in Autumn 2014
  • unauthorised absence has fallen from 1.8% to 1.4% over the same period
  • Overall absence in the autumn term has fallen over the last five years in Nottingham, from 8.1 percent in 2010 to 4.6 percent in 2014

Nottingham is now ranked 109th nationally for attendance out of 152 local authorities – up from 150th in 2013. Nottingham is the most improved Local Authority area in England – with only the Isles of Scilly exceeding Nottingham’s rate of improvement.

‘Illness’ is still the most common reason given for not being in school, accounting for 52.8% of all absences in Autumn term 2014. Nationally this is around 60%.

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for schools in Nottingham, said: “I would like to congratulate pupils, parents and schools across the City for their focus on good attendance. A lot of work across the partnership has gone into cracking down on school absence and celebrating good attendance. This is making a huge difference. Nottingham is rapidly narrowing the gap in absence rates with the rest of the UK. Schools and academies, pupils and parents deserve recognition for their great work.”

Nottingham City Council – as part of its work with the Education Improvement Board – has been working in partnership with schools and academies to focus on better attendance in schools. A zero tolerance campaign on absence was launched in 2014, making it clear that the council will take legal action against the parents of pupils who are persistently absent. And a major campaign was held with secondary schools in Autumn 2014, offering a unique VIP music gig for pupils with the best attendance.

Cllr Webster added: “We’ve taken a tough approach, and it’s working. We’ve cracked down on poor attendance and rewarded good attendance through the Lord Mayor’s Attendance Awards – as well as trying innovative campaigns such as the Get the Gig competition for secondary schools in Autumn 2014. But our message remains clear: we expect children who are registered with a school to be in school.”

Fines of £60 per parent per child are issued through the courts for unauthorised absence. If this is not paid in 21 days, the fine doubles to £120 per parent, per child. If the fine is still unpaid, courts can impose tougher fines (with court costs) of up to £2,500 – and even have the power to issue prison sentences.

Cllr Webster added: “We know that the majority of parents act responsibly to ensure their children are in school when they should be; but it is vital that we tackle those who are breaking the law.

“Even a pupil with 90% attendance is effectively missing one day of school every two weeks. In the working world, that’s almost a month of absence every year.

“Ultimately, we want children to be in school so that they can achieve their full potential. Missing 17 days of school a year has been proved to be the difference between getting one higher grade at GCSE level – and that is crucial for our young people.”

Parents can help their child’s attendance at school by:

  • Making sure their child gets to school on time
  • Not booking holidays during term time
  • Contacting the school the first day a child is off sick.

More help and advice on attendance is available from