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Sickness and Absence

When a child is unwell, it can be hard to decide whether to keep them off school for parents. These simple guidelines taken from the NHS website should help. Click here to go straight to it.

Not every illness needs a child to stay away from school. If a child is kept away from school, parents must inform the school on the first day of their absence and every subsequent day of illness. Reporting absences is covered in more detail in our attendance policy.

Common sense needs to be used when deciding whether or not a child is too ill to attend school. Parents need to ask themselves the following questions.

  • Is my child well enough to do the activities of the school day? If not, keep your child at home.
  • Does my child have a condition that could be passed on to other children or school staff? If so, keep your child at home.
  • Would I take a day off work if I had this condition? If so, keep your child at home.

Common conditions

If a child is ill, it's likely to be due to one of a few minor health conditions. (see below)

Cough and cold.

A child with a minor cough or cold may attend school. If the cold is accompanied by a raised temperature, shivers or drowsiness, the child should stay off school, visit the GP and return to school 24 hours after they start to feel better. If a child has a more severe and long-lasting cough, they should go to a  GP. They can give guidance on whether your child should stay off school.

Raised temperature.

If a child has a raised temperature, they shouldn't attend school. They can return 24 hours after they start to feel better.


Skin rashes can be the first sign of many infectious illnesses, such as chickenpox and measles. Children with these conditions shouldn't attend school. If a child has a rash, check with a GP or practice nurse before sending them to school.


A child with a minor headache doesn't usually need to be kept off school. If the headache is more severe or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as raised temperature or drowsiness, then the child should be kept off school and a GP consulted.

Vomiting and diarrhoea.

Children with diarrhoea and/or vomiting must be kept off school until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have gone. Most cases of diarrhoea and vomiting in children get better without treatment, but if symptoms persist, consult a GP.

Sore throat.

A sore throat alone doesn't have to keep a child from school. But if it's accompanied by a raised temperature, your child should stay at home.


If a child has chickenpox, they must be kept off school until all their spots have crusted over.