What does the law say about school attendance?

Education should be considered an essential part of any child’s upbringing as it gives them the best start in life, which is exactly why regular school attendance is so important.

The law states that it is the parents’ responsibility that their children receive full-time education from Reception through to Year 11, following GCSE exams. This law was created to promote literacy levels in the country, and to diminish poverty and child labour in future generations.

Suitable schooling

Education is primarily there to help children reach their full potential, preparing them for life in a modern and civilised society. Not only will it promote literacy levels in the country, but has helped to diminish past problems of poverty and child labour for generations.

This is why the years of compulsory education must be suited to the child’s needs. For example, if the child has special educational needs or disabilities, they must go to a school that caters for that, whether specifically or additionally.

It’s important that every school keeps to a curriculum that gives pupils the education that they need; an education that is suitable to both their age ability as well as their aptitude. If parents or guardians want to take the homes schooling approach, they must also follow these standards.


As it is the parents’ or guardians’ responsibility to provide their children with a suitable education, it is also their responsibility to ensure that their children have a good record of school attendance. This can also include getting to school on time.

By missing school frequently, it’s easy for children to fall behind on work and learning, which can affect them badly when it comes to exams. The school needs to make the attendance rules clear, stating the necessary actions for parents with children that are unable to attend for whatever reason.

Parents and schools should allow a child a day off school for legitimate reasons, such as:

  • Illness
  • Advance permission

There are number of legal powers that local councils and schools can enforce if your child is missing school without a good reason, including a Parenting Order, an Education Supervision Order, a School Attendance Order and a fine.

Holidays during term time

As with recent news, this is a point that schools should also make clear before term time begins. With the obvious advantages of cheaper prices amongst other things, holidaying during school time can seem appealing.

However, it is essential that you gain permission from the head teacher of the school before taking your children on holiday in term time. The amount of time from school that your child can attain is a decision that is left up to the head teacher, or any other exceptional circumstances. Without the school’s permission, you are likely to be fined by your local council.

Preventing your child from missing school

Besides understanding the rules and regulations of a school in terms of attendance, there are certain things you can do as a parent or guardian that will prevent your child from missing or skipping school.

Firstly, one of the most important things to do is promote a positive outlook on school and education, as it can often has negative connotations with children. Simple aspects of school such as uniform, homework, and school rules can be interpreted as restrictive to children, although they play roles in the development of children, both academically and socially.

You can encourage a more positive opinion of school and education in a number of ways, including:

  • Ensuring they know the important of education, which coincides with good attendance and being on time
  • Taking an interest in their days at school and homework
  • Encouraging them to take part in out of school activities with fellow schoolmates
  • Not allowing days off school for minor issues or illnesses that won’t affect them or their classmates
  • Acknowledging and discussing any potential problems they may be having at school, and informing staff if necessary

If you’re interested in finding out more about parental and schooling laws, or more about general child care, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 01375 898 870 or solicitors@attwoodgroup.co.uk.