Regular attendance at school is vital to help children achieve and get the best possible start in life.
Children who frequently miss school often fall behind. There is a strong link between good school attendance and achieving good results.
Young people who are frequently absent from school are more likely to become involved in, or be a victim of crime and anti-social behaviour.
Your responsibilities as a parent
All children aged between 5 and 16 are required by law to receive an education, and it is the duty of parents and carers to ensure that they are supported to do so.
Children sometimes have to miss school because of illness or if they have long term medical issues. If this is the case, parents should contact school the same day to let them know the reason that their child is not in school.
Changes to government legislation from 1 September 2013
From 1 September 2013, a change to government legislation means that schools are no longer allowed to authorise requests for children to be taken out of school for a holiday during term time.
Requests for leave can only be granted by schools if there are exceptional circumstances, and holidays are not considered exceptional. Requests for leave must also be made to the school in advance, as the Department for Education has told schools that they cannot authorise any absences after they have been taken.
When a child has irregular school attendance, the Attendance Officers will try to make improvements by visiting the family at the home, arranging meetings, working with other agencies, making referrals to services and using legal measures. When parents fail to ensure regular school attendance of their children (unauthorised absence) the School Attendance Service can undertake legal actions.
Parents may be issued with a penalty notice if their child has irregular school attendance or unauthorised leave of absence (commonly referred to as term time holiday). A penalty notice is £60 if paid within 21 days or £120 if paid between 22 to 28 days. Non-payment will result in the parent being prosecuted in court.
Parents can also receive court summons where they will be required to attend court and explain why their child did not attend school regularly. If a parent pleads, or is found guilty, of the offence of failing to ensure regular school attendance, the court has a range of sanctions depending on the circumstances.
Parents may receive:
- A conditional discharge
- A fine of up to £2,500
- A Community Order
- A Parenting Order (parenting Orders usually lasts six months and parents are required to undertake activities such as attending parenting classes. Failure to adhere to a Parenting Order will result in further legal proceedings)
- A curfew with electronic tag fitted
- A prison sentence of up to three months