Attendance and exclusions of children in care

Attendance and exclusions of children in care

Improve a child in care’s attendance, reintegration plans or part time timetables, and guidelines for exclusions.

What you can do to improve attendance

Children in Care (CiC) are more likely to miss education because of disruption in their lives.

You can help to improve a child in care’s attendance by talking to them and their carer.

You should talk to the young person about:

  • the importance of coming to school
  • how they feel about going to school
  • their ambitions for the future and how being at school will help them with further education or getting a job

You should tell the young person’s foster carer:

  • who they should contact at school if there are problems at home
  • to talk to the school about anything that stops the young person from attending
  • that they must ring the school first thing in the morning if the young person can’t go in
  • that the setting will contact them if the young person doesn’t arrive at school and you haven’t heard from the carer

If a young person’s behaviour concerns you, The HOPE can give you advice and support. Talk to The HOPE lead for the young person. Contact The HOPE.

See the Statutory school attendance guidance from the DfE.

Welfare Call

The HOPE commissions Welfare Call to ring almost all education settings outside of Bristol to collect daily attendance information for Bristol’s children in care from Reception to Year 11.

You should receive an introductory letter from Welfare Call when a Bristol child in care starts at your setting if we have asked them to call you.

Pupils who are persistently absent (PA)

The Department for Education monitors the school attendance of children in care. The HOPE has to report on any young people who are persistently absent, who are those who miss 19 days or 38 sessions or more of schooling for any reason in an academic year.

What you need to do

If a child in care is persistently absent you’ll need to write an attendance plan for them. See an example attendance plan.

You should do the plan at a meeting with key people such as:

  • the child’s carer
  • the child’s social worker

The plan should include targets for the child and other key people who can help to make sure that they go to school.

You should review the plan at least every 6 weeks and any actions should be considered alongside the child’s Personal Education Plan.

You’ll need to securely email a copy of the attendance plan to The HOPE lead for the young person.

Significant change to a child’s timetable

If you’re considering putting a child in care on to a reduced timetable you must talk to us first. It’s important for us to know because we need to make sure that all children in care are in full time education.

Call 0117 903 6282 and ask to speak to the member of staff for that child. You’ll need to arrange a meeting to discuss the proposal. You must also invite the young person’s social worker and carer.

Our reintegration plan flowchart shows the process for agreeing a reintegration plan.

If a reduced timetable has been agreed

At the meeting, if a reduced timetable is agreed, you should complete the reintegration plan and review form.

You should hold review meetings within 6 weeks of the part time timetable being agreed, then at least every 6 weeks until the child returns to full time education.

Holidays in term time

Children in care must not take holidays in term time unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as an important family event or a bereavement.

If a foster carer asks if their child can take a holiday in term time, tell them to speak to their social worker first. The social worker will talk to us so we can decide if the term time holiday is acceptable.

If we agree on the holiday, the school also has to agree. The school must tell social worker and carer the decision.

If we decide that the child can’t take the holiday, the education setting shouldn’t be asked to agree the holiday.

Children Missing Education

Schools must talk to us before they make any changes to the school roll of a young person in care. See the Trading with Schools guidance.


Children in care are more likely to be at risk of exclusion as a group.

Excluding a pupil should be a very last resort. You should work with the young person’s carer and The HOPE to find ways to avoid an exclusion.

If it is absolutely necessary to exclude a pupil, talk to The HOPE lead for the young person first. We’ll want to make sure there’s somewhere else for the young person to go from the first day of their exclusion. Contact The HOPE.

See Bristol’s exclusions process.

See the Department for Education’s statutory exclusions guidance.

Research on attendance and exclusions

Making the Difference: Breaking the link between school exclusion and social exclusion has information about why young people are excluded, the role of schools and ways to tackle exclusion.