Attendance Explained

Attendance figures are based on your child being in school for the morning and afternoon registrations so, 2 sessions per day.
Both the am and pm sessions are counted towards their attendance figure which is calculated as a percentage of how many sessions your child has been present during an academic year.

The only two reasons a child can be marked as present when not in school are if they are:

  1. being educated off-site or
  2. attending a school trip or an education sporting activity.

The teachers mark the registers at the start of the morning and afternoon sessions and if a child is not present, they will apply the ‘N’ code which means that we do not yet have information on why your child is absent. (An N code is an unauthorised absence code.) After the morning registration, the Office team amend the codes according to messages received via our absence line or by e-mail. Please note that unless we hear from you with an explanation regarding your child’s absence the 'N' mark will continue to be applied and a phone call to priority 1 and/or 2 contacts will be made to attain the reason for the absence.

Apart from in exceptional circumstances, the N code is likely to be reverted to an 'O' code (unauthorised absence) if we do not hear from you by the end of the day, and this will have a negative effect on your child’s attendance figures.

Authorised Absence

Absence for school could be authorised for the following reasons:

  1. Medical appointment – for planned appointments, this should always be requested in advance by our “Request for Exceptional Leave of Absence” form and submitting the supporting appointment card. The expectation is that your child will attend school both before and after the appointment, subject to the time of the appointment.
  2. Religious Observance
  3. Visiting potential new school

Please note an authorised absence is still recorded as an absence and will negatively impact your child’s attendance. We ask that all routine medical appointments be booked for outside school hours.

Unauthorised Term-time Leave (Including Term Time Holiday)

Any parent who takes their child out for term-time leave for more than 6 consecutive sessions (3 days) which has not been authorised by the Headteacher under exceptional circumstances may receive a Penalty Notice. Penalty Notices that occurred more than once in the last 3 years will also risk the chance of being prosecuted by the LA.

Importance of Attendance

National and local figures show that children whose attendance is greater than 96% will achieve better academic results. It is vitally important that your child is at school on time every day as they could miss out on important sessions which will inevitably affect their overall progress.

Children who are away from school on a regular basis will also find it more challenging to build friendships within the school.

Absence reporting

Any planned absence should always be reported to us in advance. If you are requesting an absence, you are required to complete our “Request for Exceptional Leave of Absence” form. This form should also be used for planned medical appointments. Please return completed forms to the School Office for processing at least a week prior to the proposed absence. You can find this document at the bottom of this page.

Absences due to illness should be reported to the School Office either by calling our dedicated absence line (01954 250227 and selecting Option 1) or by sending an e-mail to office@cottenham.cambs.sch.ukeach and every morning by 9am the latest.
We need to hear from you every day of the absence unless the School Office have advised you otherwise.

Is my child too ill for school?

We appreciate it can be tricky deciding whether or not to keep your child off school.

There are government guidelines for schools about managing specific infectious diseases at GOV.UK. These advise when children should be kept off school and when they shouldn't.

If you do keep your child at home, it is important to phone us every day to let us know why your child will not be in. Please provide sufficient detail when reporting your child’s absence.

If your child is well enough to go to school but may appear to have an infection that could be passed on, such as a cold sore or head lice, please let your child’s teacher know that treatment has commenced.

Please follow this advice for illnesses:

Coughs and colds

It's fine to send your child to school with a minor cough or common cold. but if they have a high fever, keep them off school until the fever goes.

Encourage your child to throw away any used tissues and to wash their hands regularly.

High temperature

If your child has a high temperature, keep them off school until it .comes down to less than 38 degrees.


If your child has chickenpox, keep them off school until all the spots have crusted over.

This is usually about 5 days after the spots first appear.

Cold sores

There's no need to keep your child off school if they have a cold sore.

Encourage them not to touch the blister or kiss anyone while they have the cold sore, or to share things like cups and towels.


You don't need to keep your child away from school if they have conjunctivitis.

Do get advice from your pharmacist. Encourage your child to not rub their eyes and to wash their hands regularly.


If your child has symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, and feels well enough, they can go to school.

Your child should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and they either:

  • have a high temperature
  • do not feel well enough to go to school or do their normal activities

 What to do if your child has tested positive

Your child is no longer required to do a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test if they have symptoms. But if your child has tested positive for COVID-19, they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day they took the test.

Ear infection

If your child has an ear infection with a high temperature or severe earache, keep them off school until they're feeling better or their high temperature goes away. Otherwise, please send them into school.

Hand, foot and mouth disease

If your child has hand, foot and mouth disease but seems well enough to go to school, there's no need to keep them off.

Encourage your child to throw away any used tissues straight away and to wash their hands regularly.

Head lice and nits

There's no need to keep your child off school if they have head lice, but we kindly ask that you treat the head lice and nits before sending them in and continue to regularly use a nit comb.

You can treat head lice and nits without seeing a GP.


If your child has impetigo, they'll need treatment from a GP, often with antibiotics.

Keep them off school until all the sores have crusted over and healed, or for 48 hours after they start antibiotic treatment.

Encourage your child to wash their hands regularly and not to share things like towels and cups with other children at school.


If your child has ringworm, you should see your pharmacist unless it's on their scalp, in which case you should see a GP.

It is fine for your child to go to school once they have started treatment.

Scarlet fever

If your child has scarlet fever, they'll need treatment with antibiotics from a GP. Otherwise, they'll be infectious for 2 to 3 weeks.

Your child can go back to school 24 hours after starting antibiotics.

Slapped cheek syndrome (fifth disease)

You don't need to keep your child off school if they have slapped cheek syndrome because, once the rash appears, they're no longer infectious.

We would however kindly ask that you let the office and class teacher know if you think your child has slapped cheek syndrome.

Sore throat

You can still send your child to school if they have a sore throat but if they also have a high temperature, they should stay at home until it comes down to less than 30 degrees.

A sore throat and a high temperature can be symptoms of tonsillitis.


You don't need to keep your child off school if they have threadworms but please do speak to your pharmacist, who can recommend a treatment.

Vomiting and diarrhoea

Children with diarrhoea or vomiting should stay away from school until they have not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least 2 days (48 hours), but this only applies if you believe your child has a tummy bug and is thus infectious to other children and staff. If you strongly believe there is another reason for your child having diarrhoea or vomiting (anxiety, heavy cold, food intolerance etc), please talk to the Office team who will glad to advise whether your child can  return to school sooner than the 48 hours.

The Chief Medical Officer wrote to schools back in September 2023 attendance and mild illnesses and you can read his letter here:

CMO letter to schools

Attendance Newsletters
 CPS Attendance Policy and Associated Documents
 Attendance Letter Examples