School attendance and children out of education

Parents have a legal duty to make sure children aged between 5 and 16 attend school regularly and arrive on time, unless they have chosen to educate their child at home or the child has medical needs signed off by a consultant.

Our attendance and children out of school team are here to help with school attendance issues. We can also advise on the laws and licensing rules for employing children and children in entertainment.

If your child does not attend school regularly, or you take them out of school without the permission of the head teacher, we can take action to improve attendance.

School attendance issues

  • 98% attendance sounds good but still means your child has missed 4 days in the school year
  • 80% attendance means your child has missed 38 days in the year
  • 5 minutes late each day means 3 whole days lost each year
  • poor attendance harms learning and future outcomes - children who miss 17 days each year on average see their GCSE results drop by a full grade
  • poor attendance reduces wellbeing - children miss out on making friends, building confidence and achieving successes

Your child's school may refer you to us if they are unhappy with the child's attendance record. Parents, children themselves and anyone who is concerned about a child can also contact us direct - email us or call us on 01270 375255.

We will meet with the parents, child and school to look at the reasons for the poor attendance and draw up a support plan. This may include bringing in other agencies, to make sure the child gets the right help.

We may issue penalty notice letters and fines if the situation does not improve. We can also prosecute parents if they do not co-operate to help the child.

Actions we can take when children miss school

You do not have the right to take children on holiday in term time. Head teachers can only give permission to take a child out of school when there are exceptional circumstances.

Details about what the school counts as exceptional circumstances are agreed by the head teacher and governors and included in the school's attendance policy.

If you want to take your children out of school, you must apply to the school in writing explaining the exceptional circumstances. The head will follow the school's attendance policy to decide whether or not to approve the application. They will then write to you with their decision.

If the head does not approve the application and you still take the child out of school, the school will record the absence as unauthorised. You may then get a school absence penalty notice (fine). 

You can report children who are not registered at a school and not being educated anywhere else as children missing education (CME)

See school exclusions for information on the exclusions process and your rights and responsibilities.