School attendance

The parental responsibilities concerning your child or children’s school attendance and the legal consequences if they fail to attend.

Your child or children should be:

  • attending school everyday unless there is a very good reason for absence.
  • getting to school on time
  • being present at school for both morning and afternoon sessions

You can face legal and financial sanctions if your child fails to attend school. A fixed penalty notice is £120, this amount will reduce to £60 if paid within 21 days. If your child still does not attend school an Education Supervision Order is issued by the family court and can lead to prosecution in a Magistrates' court.

Children who attend school regularly are more likely to:

  • keep up with school work
  • develop good habits and important life skills
  • maintain friendships
  • gain better qualifications
  • have access to a wider range of opportunities when they leave school
  • stay away from harm

What are your parental duties around children’s education

As a parent or a guardian of a child registered at a school you:

  • must make sure that their children receive efficient full time education in school or elsewhere
  • must make sure that the child attends regularly
  • should inform the school of the reasons for any unavoidable absence on the first day
  • may request term time absence only in special or exceptional circumstances; this should be made in writing to the head teacher - giving as much notice as possible

When children have to start school and leave school

Children must receive full-time education from the start of the school term after their fifth birthday until the end of June in the school year in which they turn 16.

Who authorises absences 

Only the headteacher can decide if the reason given for absence is acceptable. If the head teacher decides that the reason given for absence is unacceptable, the absence will remain unauthorised.