When can children miss school?

Information about when children can miss school and the support available for parents and carers

You can only allow​ your child to miss school if either:

  • you've got advance permission from the school;
  • they're too ill to go in.

There's extra support available if your child can't go to school for long periods because of a health problem.

Leave of absence (holidays) in term time

You have to get permission from the Headteacher/principle if you want to take your child out of school during term time.

You can only do this if:

  • you make an application to the head teacher in advance;
  • there are exceptional circumstances.

It's up to the Headteacher/principle how many days your child can be away from school if leave is granted. You can be fined for taking your child on holiday during term time without the school's permission.

Illness and your child's education

If your child is ill, it's important to take time to get better, but infection doesn't always mean that your child has to be off school for ages.  Schools can help you with guidance on how long your child should be off with an illness (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-protection-in-schools-and-other-childcare-facilities).

  • If your child is going to be absent, contact the school on the first morning and follow your child's school attendance policy.
  • Send a signed and dated note with the reason for the absence when your child returns to school.
  • It is the school that decides whether to authorise an absence. 
  • If there is a problem speak to the school - support will be available but staff need to be told about any difficulties as soon as possible.

If your child has a medical condition

All maintained schools and academies should support children with medical conditions. You should tell the school if your child has medical needs (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supporting-pupils-at-school-with-medical-conditions--3).

You can ask to see the school's policy on supporting pupils with medical conditions.

If your child has a disability, the school must make 'reasonable adjustments' to make sure they aren't discriminated against (https://www.gov.uk/rights-disabled-person/education-rights).

If your child gets sick at school

Schools often have to provide a space for:

  • treatment of sick or injured pupils;
  • first aid or medical examinations.

This is can be 2 separate rooms, both with a sink and access to a toilet.

If your child can't go to school because of illness or injury

The school and potentially our local authority will provide support to make sure their education doesn't suffer.

The school should:

  • let the local authority know if your child is likely to be away from school for more than 15 school days;
  • give the council information about your child's needs, capabilities and the programme of work;
  • help them reintegrate at school when they return;
  • make sure they're kept informed about school events and clubs;
  • encourage them to stay in contact with other pupils, eg through visits or videos.

The local authority will make sure:

  • your child gets as normal an education as possible if they're going to be away from school for a long time. This could include arranging home teaching, a hospital school or teaching service, or a combination of home and hospital teaching;
  • your child continues to get a full-time education - unless part time is better for their health needs;
  • your child isn't without access to education for more than 15 school days;
  • education is arranged from the start of your child's absence if it's clear they're going to be away from school for long and recurring periods.​​