School attendance

If you want to give your child the best possible start in life and ensure they make the most of their education its crucial they regularly attend school. Through regular attendance children and young people can make friends, develop social skills and learn valuable lessons in life such as arriving on time.

Attendance matters

As a parent you are legally responsible for ensuring your child regularly attends school. If your child is absent you must provide a reason to the school who will decide to authorise the absence.

If the reason provided for the absence is judged to be unsatisfactory it will be classed as unauthorised. Frequent, unexplained or continued unauthorised absences could lead to a referral to our Education Enforcement team. If this happens we can take legal steps to enforce school attendance.

Am I classed as a parent?

The Education Act states a ‘parent’ is:

  • any natural parent, whether married or not
  • any parent who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility for a child or young person
  • any person who, although not a parent, has care of a young child

Leave during term time

Any requests for leave during the school term will be classed as an unauthorised absence unless the head teacher of your child’s school can be provided with evidence that the leave was due to exceptional circumstances. A holiday or family event would not be treated as exceptional. If the leave is taken it could result in a fine being issued (see below).

It’s the law that your child attends school

Unauthorised absences may result in prosecution that can lead to:

  • a fine of up to £2,500 per parent per child
  • a Community Order or custodial sentence
  • a criminal record.

The trigger for a fixed penalty notice is 10 sessions of unauthorised absence.

If your child fails to regularly attend school you'll be issued with a warning letter. If your child’s attendance still does not improve you could receive a fine of:

  • £60 if paid within 21 days
  • £120 if paid between 22 and 28 days

Fines are issued to both parents for each child and must be paid in full, we will not accept part payment of the amount. None payment of the fine will result in prosecution.

What should I do if I am having difficulties getting my child to school?

If you are having difficulty getting your child to school or think there may be a reason why your child does not want to go to school, you should always speak to the school. Schools are experienced in dealing with attendance issues and can help you and your child access support

Arriving late for school

Any child that regularly arrives late to school is missing out on valuable education. Children can also find that walking late into a lesson or assembly that has already started is an unsettling experience.

Schools are legally required to take a register twice a day, first thing in the morning and in the afternoon. If your child is late without providing a satisfactory explanation then it may be marked as an unauthorised absence. Regularly arriving late can result in legal action for failing to ensure regular attendance.


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