Contact us on (01255) 245 460


School Attendance Expectations and NHS Guidelines

1st September 2023

Dear Parent / Carer

I would like to take this opportunity, at the start of our new academic year, to remind you that Harwich and Dovercourt High School is continually striving to raise standards of learning and increase academic progress and achievement for all our students. With the Covid-19 pandemic hopefully now behind us all, it is time to get back to normal – this includes our expectations around school attendance. We expect 100% attendance but we consider 98%+ as good attendance. In line with what the Government expects of us, our minimum expected attendance rate for every student is 96%. Anything below this minimum expected attendance will result in attendance support and actions. 

Regular attendance at school is essential to promote the education of students and achieve these high standards. We know that presence in school is essential if students are to achieve their potential, and therefore, our expectation is that your child is in school every day that the school is open, and arrives at school punctually. Where students are frequently late to or absent from school, whole classes can be affected. We want to assure you that we are making every effort to ensure that your child’s learning is not unduly disrupted by the frequent absence or lateness of other students.

We know that having high attendance is statistically linked with students achieving their academic potential and for them to develop their social, emotional and life skills but above all, it is the law.  We will always work with you and our students to promote and achieve these expectations and we will always reward excellent attendance each term through various initiatives and opportunities. 

We need you to be aware that if your child’s attendance does not meet this expectation, due to absence or lateness, appropriate action will be taken to improve attendance. The school is committed to providing the best outcome for your child and we have dedicated processes in place that we follow within school and with our established links with outside agencies to ensure optimum support for you and your child. 

To help parents decide whether they should allow their child a day off school when poorly, The NHS has produced guidance on common illnesses. This guidance is available via NHS – Is my child too ill for school? webpage and underpins our decision on whether the reason provided for absence is to be authorised.

The NHS message is quite clear –

  • It is ok to  allow a child or young person to go to school with some common or minor illnesses.
  • Common colds, minor coughs, sore throats or headaches alone do not mean they are too unwell to attend school.
  • Only absences that are unavoidable will be authorised at Harwich and Dovercourt High School. 

Building on this strong focus, from September 2022 we will be working with an external partner called Aquinas (School Attendance Provisions) to help improve the rates of attendance for some students. Aquinas is a member of The National Association for Support Workers in Education (NASWE), as well as being an Accredited Company by Essex Police under The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS). They will be working very closely with our own internal attendance and pastoral teams, as well as Local Authority’s Attendance Compliance Team. Although Aquinas holds a Police Accreditation, the legal enforcement aspect of their role is secondary to their priority of finding a positive, support-centred response to any identified barrier to the regular school attendance of our students.

Please be reminded that all Parents/Carers are encouraged to contact school at an early stage and to work together to resolve any problems that may arise. This is nearly always successful. If difficulties cannot be resolved in this way and you are invited to attend a meeting at school regarding attendance; please do try to attend, or contact us to explain any difficulties that may be preventing your child from accessing their full educational entitlement.

If there is ever an occasion when your child cannot attend school Parents/Carers are asked to contact the school on the first day of absence and any day thereafter by 8.30am. This can be by calling us on 01255 245460 and leaving a message on the absence line or by contacting your child’s Student Support Assistant, should you require to speak directly to a member of staff.

If your child has to attend a medical appointment during school time you must provide evidence ie. appointment letter. However, we do encourage Parents/Carers to make all non-emergency appointments out of school hours.

Holidays during term time will not be authorised unless in exceptional circumstances, as per statutory guidance from the Department of Education, and any unauthorised holidays taken during term time will result in the issue of a Penalty Notice. 

Finally, please remember that the law states (Education Act 1996, Section 7) all children of compulsory school age must receive an appropriate full-time education. By registering your child at Harwich and Dovercourt High School, you have made the decision to entrust us with your child’s education and it is then your legal duty to ensure they attend regularly.  Failing to meet this duty is breaking the law and may result in a penalty notice, prosecution or an Education Supervision Order. 

If you feel a meeting with our pastoral or attendance teams would be beneficial to you and/or your child now, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our support is always on offer.

Yours faithfully, 

Miss C Doyle
Assistant Headteacher

Attendance is Achievement! Attend Today, Achieve Tomorrow
How is your child’s attendance affected every time they are absent?


Every morning students are expected to be on the school site and in their registration rooms for the 8.35am morning register. Pupils arriving after the 8.35am start time will be marked late and are expected to report to the hall at breaktime. Failure to do so will result in a referral in line with the behaviour system. If there is a legitimate reason for being late, parents/carers/guardians must phone the school or send a signed note in with the student; they should sign in at the main reception. In these instances they will be given a late slip so that they do not receive a sanction.
Persistent lateness, that is unauthorised, will be dealt with by our attendance staff and can be treated in exactly the same way as if the student had been absent for the whole session. Punctuality to lessons will be recorded and students that are regularly arriving late will be expected to make up their loss of learning time.

What the law says?

The parent is legally responsible for ensuring that their child receives a suitable education.  (Section 7, Education Act 1996). Failure to ensure that their child attends school punctually and regularly could lead to legal action being taken against the parent.  This could result in each parent receiving a fine of up to £2,500 for each time or up to 3 months imprisonment. Local Education Authorities are required by law to enforce school attendance. By law, only the School can approve absence, not the parent.

If you have previously received a Penalty Notice for an offence of failing to ensure regular school attendance or been the subject of a prosecution for any child in relation to irregular school attendance, you may not be given the opportunity to pay a further Penalty Notice; your case may proceed directly to court.

Leave of Absence during term time

The School complies with government legislation, which states that term time leave of absence can only be taken in ‘exceptional circumstances’. For example: Forces personnel on leave from a foreign posting or significant family events or circumstances.  If this is the case, a ‘Leave of Absence’ request form must be completed; this can be obtained from the Attendance Office. When returned to the Attendance Office, it should be accompanied by a letter of explanation. If the School considers an application has not justified ‘Exceptional Circumstances’, approval will not be given. This is a school decisionIf the leave of absence is then taken regardless, the school may seek to apply for a Penalty Notice in accordance with Education (Penalty Notices) Regulations 2004. The LEA will impose fines and prosecute parents for unauthorised holidays and prolonged unauthorised absence. There is a fine of £60 per parent, per child for authorised leave of absence.

The HDHS Attendance Protocols

HDHS Admission Policies can be found here:  HDHS Policies

If you have any questions relating to attendance in the school please contact:


TELEPHONE – 01255 245460, EXTENSION 27157



TELEPHONE – 01255 245460, EXTENSION – 27131