Every day at school

Why attendance is important

By law if your child is aged 5 to 16 years old, she or he must be in full-time education. Your child can be educated at school or at home.                 

If your child is to be educated at school, you must:

  • register your child at a school
  • Make sure your child goes to school regularly
  • make sure your child goes to school on time.

More information about why attendance is so important can be found on the school attendance information for parents and carers page.

Registering your child at a school

You must enrol your child in a school or tell us if your child is in another form of education. If you don’t, you could face legal action.

Children who are not enrolled in full-time education are 'missing from education'.

Going to school regularly

Going to school regularly is very important as it will help your child to:

  • develop social skills and confidence by making friends and socialising
  • prepare for adult life by getting used to a routine
  • get better results and so improve his or her chances in life.

And research shows that it also limits the risk from:

  • physical and emotional harm
  • exploitation by unsuitable adults
  • getting involved in crime and anti-social behaviour
  • achieving poor school results and poor prospects.

Tips for good attendance

  • Talk to your child about the importance of going to school every day
  • Take an interest in their school work, including helping with homework and attending parents’ evenings. If they know it matters to you it will matter to them.
  • Have set times for going to bed and waking up so your child gets plenty of sleep and is up in good time to get to school on time.
  • Stop using electronic devices one hour before bedtime. 
  • Have clothes and school bag ready the night before.
  • Only let your child stay home if they are genuinely ill.
  • If your child doesn’t want to go to school, find out why and work with your school and child to try to sort out the problem. 
  • Celebrate your child’s achievements at school and their good attendance.
  • Try to book doctor, dentist, and other appointments after school hours.
  • Book holidays in the school holidays, not term time.
  • If you need help, ask for it. Speak to your school or contact our team on

How we can support you

It is really important that you talk to your child’s school as soon as you are aware that your child’s attendance has become a concern.  The school will work with you and support you to make sure your child goes to school regularly and on time. They can:

  • visit you at home or make time to see you at school
  • talk to you about all the problems that may be making if difficult for your child to attend school
  • help you to deal with the difficulties which stop your child from going to school regularly
  • put you in touch with other services, if you need more advice or support.
  • they may work with you to complete an Early Help Assessment.

Unfortunately there isn’t an easy way to make your child attend school regularly should your child’s attendance become poor (for example, falls below 80%).  The best way to try help your child improve their attendance is for you and your child to talk to the school and the other professionals that may be trying to help you, and be honest and open about what is happening.  We can only support you and your child if we know what the problem is, no matter how big or small the problem is, or how many problems there are.

Together Everyone Achieves More!

As long as you are open and honest, you work with the school and other professionals to try and make sure your child attends school regularly (including doing things you agree to do), and you attend every meeting and meet regularly with those who are trying to help, you may avoid legal action being taken against you.

If you are still having difficulties with your child’s attendance, please contact our team via

More information about how poor attendance can impact children and young people and what you can do to help can be found on the persistent absence page.

Holidays during school term

You can't take your child out of school during term time. If you do, you could receive a penalty notice.

Holidays during the school term - the law

Once your child is registered at a school, the law says you must send them to school every day and on time.

The government does not give schools the freedom to allow parents to take their children out of school for up to ten days in term time. Only in exceptional circumstances will the headteacher grant you permission to take your child out of school.

The headteacher will consider any application carefully and look at: 

  • The reasons why you need to take your child out of school
  • The effect on your child's education
  • The number of days your child will be away
  • Your child’s attendance record.

If he or she agrees, the headteacher will tell you when your child must be back in school. 

Penalty notices and fines

If you take your child out of school without permission, you may receive a penalty notice.

If you receive a penalty notice you will have to pay:

  • £60 per parent for each child - if you pay within 21 days
  • £120 per parent for each child - if you don't pay within 21 days, but do pay within 28 days.

If you don’t pay, you will be taken to court.

You can read more on our family holidays during term time page.

Action we can take if your child misses school

Schools check pupils’ attendance twice a day by taking a register. If your child misses school without permission or a good reason, the school records this absence as 'unauthorised'. This will affect your child’s attendance record and could lead to a fine or even legal action. 

If your child is ill and you don’t tell the school, the school will record the absence as unauthorised. If your child continues to miss school due to illness, and you don’t give the school proof of the medical problem, the school will record the absence as unauthorised.

As a parent or carer, unless there is a very good reason such as illness, you must make sure your child:

  • goes to school every day
  • arrives on time. 

School attendance - the law

If your child attends school, then you have a legal duty to ensure your child attends school every day unless your child is absent and the school has given you permission for your child to be absent.  You are breaking the law each time the school records an unauthorised absence against your child.  If you child continues to record unauthorised absence, we may take action against you, which can include: 

Penalty notices

We can send you a penalty notice (fine) if:

  • your child’s attendance falls below 90 per cent in a term period without a good reason
  • you take your child out of school during term time (for holidays for example) without agreeing the leave with the school
  • your child is delayed returning from a period of leave and you haven’t agreed this with the school
  • your child arrives at school after the registers have closed more than 10 times
  • your child is excluded from school but is seen in a public place during the first five days of that exclusion.

The fine is £60 per parent, per child if you pay within 21 days of receiving the notice. If you don’t pay the fine within 21 days, but pay it within 28 days, the cost will rise to £120. If you don’t pay at all, we may take legal action.

For more information you can read our Code of Conduct (PDF, 305 Kb), which we must follow each time we issue a penalty notice.

You can find out more about penalty notices on the warning and penalty notices page.

Legal action

We may take you to court If your child’s attendance falls below 80% or if you don’t pay a penalty notice.  If we take you to court, you could be fined up to £1,000. But if we have to take you to court more than once, the result could be a fine of up to £2,500, or up to three months in prison, or both.

We will usually invite you to attend an interview with a team member to try and find out why your child isn’t attending school regularly, and to talk about the support your child’s school has tried to put in place to support you.  As the situation is serious and may be taken to court, you will be informed of your legal rights, and it is really important that you attend the meeting and explain fully what is happening, as you will not get another opportunity.  Whatever you say in the meeting may be mentioned at court, so it is important that you are honest and open about what is happening.

We may decide to write to you and ask you questions, rather than inviting you to a meeting.  The letter we write to you will also tell you about your legal rights, and it is still important to answer the questions we ask, explaining fully what has happened.  Whatever you write down and send back to us may be mentioned at court, so it is important that you are honest and open about what is happening.

If we take you to court, you will receive a notice from us telling you.  You will not usually need to attend court, as the notice will ask you to provide information to the court in writing instead. The notice will also ask you to tell the court if you intend to plead guilty or not guilty.

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