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Further information

Does your child really need to stay at home?

In Southampton, the School Attendance and Safeguarding Team works closely with the School Health Service and many other agencies to make sure that children and young people can benefit from all the educational opportunities available to them.

To achieve this aim, they work in partnership with parents/carers and schools to make sure all of Southampton's pupils attend as fully as possible.

Southampton's school attendance rate is amongst the lowest in the country and they have found a steady increase in the number of children missing school reported as illness. They need the support of all parents to tackle this trend.

To avoid unnecessary school absences, while promoting child welfare, Southampton School Health Service and the School Attendance and Safeguarding Team have produced the content of these pages as a general guide to help you decide whether your child is well enough to attend school.

Some common rules about minor illness

Minor Illness

If your child is unwell on a school day, consider whether they are too ill to go to school for the whole day and always contact the school first thing in the morning.

Your child's school is used to dealing with minor ailments so be assured that they will make an appropriate judgement and contact you if your child needs to be taken home from school.

Longer term absence

If your child is absent from school for three or more days, or is often absent for short spells, the school may ask you to attend a meeting in school with the Education Welfare Officer and School Health Nurse.

A letter from a parent is needed when:

  • A child has any condition requiring hospital or surgical care.

  • Your child returns to school with a cast or stitches.

  • Your child needs restricted PE lessons or playtime activities for more than three consecutive days.

In cases of concern, schools or parents can ask for the advice of the school nurse, who may visit the child either in school or at home.

Good common sense

Use good common sense when deciding whether your child needs to stay at home.

It is not acceptable for your child to be absent from school due to the illness of a brother or sister.

Please remember that early morning aches often pass, so don't keep your child at home 'just in case' when they could be learning in class. If you are not sure, check the guidance in this leaflet and consider sending your child into school for the afternoon session. For further advice you could talk to a member of the school staff, your doctor or the school health nurse at the number below.

Your Contact Details

Please make sure that the contact details your child's school has are current and up to date. It is important that the school is able to make contact with you during the day if your child is not well enough to stay in school.

Service Contact Details

School Health Service
Contactable through your child's school

School Attendance and Safeguarding Team
Tel: 023 8083 3279

Other useful contacts and information
NHS 111 (available 24 hours for you to find out about illnesses and treatments)
Tel: 111
Web: NHS 111

Southampton City PALS - Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
Tel: 023 8029 6929

Is my child well enough to attend school?

Raised temperature

If your child looks or feels shivery, unusually cold or hot, they may have a raised temperature. This may be due to a variety of reasons. If you have taken the recommended steps to reduce the temperature but your child still has a raised temperature, they should not be in school.

However, your child should be able to return to school 24 hours after they feel and look better.

Colds and coughs

A child may attend school with minor colds and coughs. However, children with bad or long-lasting coughs need to stay at home. When the cough is disappearing and the child is feeling better, they need to return to school.


A rash could be the first sign of one of many childhood illnesses, such as chickenpox or measles. The rash or spots may cover the entire body or just appear in only one area. Do not send a child to school with an unexplained rash or skin eruption until you have seen your doctor.

Minor Aches and Pains

In most cases your child will be well enough to attend school; however, if your child has a persistent tooth or ear ache, they need to see a dentist or a doctor. For example, you don't need to keep a child at home whose only complaint is a minor headache. Again, take the recommended steps.

Vomiting and Diarrhoea

If your child vomits, keep your child at home until they can keep food down. A child with diarrhoea should also be kept at home. Your child's school will be able to advise as to an appropriate return date, however it is generally recommended that you allow 48 hours.

See your doctor if your child does not improve as you would expect.

Sore Throat

If your child complains of a slight sore throat and has no other symptoms, they are fit to go to school. If the sore throat occurs with a raised temperature, they need to stay at home.

Medical / GP appointments

If not an emergency, book out of school hours!

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