School Attendance and the Law

School Attendance and the Law

Please note; new guidance for schools is available Here


Regular attendance at school is important. Failing to attend school regularly can have a major impact on children’s education, their future and their life chances. Regular attendance means attending school every day, arriving at school on time and attending every lesson.

Under section 7 of the Education Act 1996, parents are responsible for ensuring their child (of statutory school age) receives efficient full time education that is suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have. This can be through regular school attendance or otherwise.  

Parents who fail to ensure their children attend school regularly without good reason could:-

  • Receive a Penalty Notice Fine of £60 per parent per child
  • Be prosecuted in the magistrate’s court and be fined up to £1,000
  • In more serious offences, or where parents have been previously prosecuted they could be fined up to £2,500 or face imprisonment

The legal measures available to Local Authorities in respect of School Attendance are detailed in the DFE document "School Attendance: Statutory Guidance and departmental advice" this document can be found here

Bradford Children's Services guidance for issuing penalty notices for unauthorised leave of absence in term time can be found Here. Penalty Notice request for Holiday/Leave of Absence Here


Prosecution Advice for Schools - Non School Attendance 

Where schools buy-in or employ their own independent educational welfare provider they cannot prosecute parents as this power remains solely with the Local Authority. However, they can make referrals to the Local Authority, which then decides whether to prosecute parents. Please see new guidance for schools Here

If School's are considering prosecution, please contact the Prosecution Lead, Lindsey Fallon on 01274 439667. Once it has been agreed which route to take please fill in the RED section on the Penalty Warning request for a Penalty Notice Here or the Prosecution request Here and email it with an up to date attendance printout and summary of involvement to 

Page owned by Waheeda Shah, last updated on 28/08/2020. This page has been viewed 18,901 times.