School attendance and absence

Information about school attendance and the impact of absence on the education of children

Under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 the parent or main carer is responsible for ensuring their child, of compulsory school age, receives appropriate full time education, suitable for the child's age, ability, aptitude and any special needs they may have.

This means that children and young people must get an education between the school term after their 5th birthday and the last Friday in June in the school year they turn 16.

You can be prosecuted if you don't give your child an education. You'll normally get warnings and offers of help first.

You can send your child to school or educate them yourself. You can find more information about Elective Home Education here.


Did you know?

90% attendance sounds good but means that your child misses on average:

  • One half day every week;
  • Nearly four weeks every school year;
  • Over one school year in a school career.

2 weeks holiday in term time every year with no other absences means that your child:

  • Can only ever achieve 95% attendance;
  • Will miss about two terms in a school career.

Being just 5 minutes late every day adds up to missing about 3 days of school every year.

The impact of your child being absent from school on a regular basis

Absence can mean:

  • Missing out on coursework and it can be very hard to catch up;
  • Losing touch with friends and teaching staff;
  • Finding it more difficult to have a successful future after leaving school;
  • Having more opportunities to become involved in crime and anti-social behaviour either as victim or perpetrator;
  • You could be fined or prosecuted and may get a criminal record.​