Information about School Attendance

What is compulsory school age?

A child becomes Compulsory school age on the first day of term after their fifth birthday. They stop being of compulsory school age on the last Friday in June, in year 11.

As a Parent or carer, you have a legal duty to make sure your child receives a suitable full-time education.

If a child is registered at a school, they must attend on a regular basis. As a Parent you need to work with the school and let them know of the reason why your child is absent and any concerns you may have as soon as possible, so they can be addressed quickly.

If you are worried about your child’s attendance and the school are not listening, you can talk to a member of the School Attendance Service by emailing or telephoning 01702 212336.

When can my child miss a day from school?

The only times your child can miss school are:

  • they are too ill to attend
  • they have a medical or dental appointment
  • other circumstances like a death in the family
  • school have agreed to a family holiday, religious observation, study leave
  • you are following Public Health’s advice in relation to COVID-19

Taking a holiday in school time

There are 175 non-school days (13 weeks) where you as a parent or carer can take family holidays and days out without having time off school. Headteachers should only agree to a holiday during school time in exceptional circumstances.

If you believe there are exceptional circumstances, you must put the holiday request in writing to the Headteacher as soon as possible. If you take the holiday without permission, you may be issued with a fine and/or be prosecuted for non-attendance.

Penalty Notices

Penalty notices are sent out to you by post and instructions on how to pay the fine are included in the Notice.

Penalty Notices are issued for:

  • unauthorised absence
  • holidays in term time without permission
  • excluded pupils found in a public place during the first 5 days of exclusion

Cost of the Notice:

  • £60 per child, per parent, if paid within 21 days
  • rising to £120 per child, per parent if paid within 28 days
  • you could be prosecuted if you do not pay the fine after 28 days

Education penatly notices can be paid using the online form.

Legal Action to enforce School Attendance

It is a criminal offence if you do not send your child to school on a regular basis. If your child’s attendance does not improve, after support has been offered by the school and or other professionals the Local Authority may consider one of two actions:

The issuing of a Penalty Notice (as above)


Prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court where you will receive a Criminal Record and be subject to one of the below sanctions.

  • a fine - the maximin of £1,000 per parent per child, or in more serious cases up to £2,500 per parent per child
  • Parenting Order - this means you must attend parenting classes and meetings in school on a weekly basis.
  • Education Supervision Order - this means If the Local Authority thinks you need support getting your child to go to school but you’re not co-operating, they can apply to the court to stipulate how this will happen
  • Community Order - which means your punishment will be carried out in the community managed by the Probation Service
  • custodial sentence of up to 3 months

Contact Children and Families

Telephone: 01702 215000

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