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The following information is from East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s website.

For information about being absent from school through illness/medical appointment click here

For information about being absent from school through exceptional circumstances and penalties please click here.

What are parents’ responsibilities?

Parents are legally responsible for ensuring their children receive education in accordance with section 7 of the Education Act 1996 and if on a school roll that they regularly attend school.

This means that children must:

  • arrive at school on time
  • attend regularly
  • be suitably clothed
  • and be in a condition to learn.

What will happen if my child does not attend school regularly?

All schools and academies monitor the attendance of their pupils, initially schools and academies will work with children and families to improve attendance.  If attendance does not improve they will then consider a referral to the education welfare service.

When a referral is made, an action plan will be devised for those pupils without justified reason for absence and those pupils whose authorised absence appears to be unreasonably extended.

The action taken includes interviewing pupils in schools, telephone contact with parents, interviewing parents in schools, written correspondence and home visits.

What will happen if my child is late for school?

Children arriving after the beginning of registration must enter school through the main reception doors. If your child is late but before registration closes, then they will be marked as “L” (for late) on the register and the number of minutes late noted on their record. If your child arrives after registration closes, they will be marked as “U” (for unauthorised absence) with the number of minutes late noted on their record.

Can I be prosecuted for not sending my child to school?

All children between the ages of 5 and 16 (compulsory school age) are required, by law, to attend the school at which they are registered. Legal action can be taken, if it is considered that a parent or carer is not fulfilling their parental responsibility to ensure their child receives a full time education.

Failure to ensure regular attendance may result in the matter being placed before the Magistrates’ Court under Section 444(1a) of the Education Act 1996. Penalties can include fines up to £2,500 for each parent, consideration of a parenting order or a period of imprisonment.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 introduced penalty notices as an additional sanction to address the problem of poor school attendance. This means that for pupils with unauthorised absence from school (ie. any absence that the school has not given permission for) their parents or carers may be subject to a fine of up to £60 per parent for each child (increases to £120 if not paid within 21 days).

For more information from the Government please visit the following website:

Department of Education (DfE) Behaviour and attendance (external website)


Who is a parent?

Section 576 of the Education Act 1996 defines ‘parent’ as: all natural parents, whether they are married or not; any person who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility (as defined in the Children Act 1989) for a child or young person; and any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person.

Having care of a child or young person means that a person with whom the child lives and who looks after the child, irrespective of what their relationship is with the child, is considered to be a parent in education law.


When does my child start compulsory schooling?

A child is of compulsory school age on the first day of term following their 5th birthday and ceases to be of compulsory school age on the last Friday in June in the school year in which they reach age 16.  Until that date parents or guardians must ensure their child’s participation in education, at school or otherwise.

This requirement applies to all children and their parents/guardians whether or not the child is enrolled in school.  If a child is enrolled in school, he or she cannot leave school until the last Friday in June.


What do I do if I’m having difficulty in getting my child to attend school?

It is very important that you speak with the school or with the Education Welfare Service at the earliest opportunity if you have any problems securing your child’s attendance.

The school and the Education Welfare Service will give you advice and support to help you fulfil your responsibility to secure improvement in your child’s attendance.

If you wish to make contact with your Education Welfare Officer please contact us using the methods below:

Education Welfare Service, County Hall, Beverley, HU17 9BA, East Riding of Yorkshire

Tel: (01482) 392146 Email [email protected]

Education Welfare Service Leaflet (pdf 1.35mb opens in a new window)


If my child needs to be absent from school, who do I notify?

If a child is absent from school, parents must contact the school as early as possible on the first day of absence.

On your child’s return to school always send a signed note which should be dated and give the reason for absence.

Any absence can disrupt your child’s education so children must not be kept away from school for reasons such as:

  • looking after relatives or siblings
  • birthdays
  • house minding
  • visiting relatives
  • long weekends
  • shopping trips
  • and taking family holidays without the agreement of the headteacher.

Although you provide a reason for absence, the school may not authorise it until clear evidence is produced.  This includes absence due to medical reasons.

Legally, only a headteacher can authorise or unauthorise an absence from school and it is a parent or carers’ responsibility to prove a child was not able to attend.


For information about being absent from school through illness/medical appointment click here

For information about being absent from school through exceptional circumstances and penalties please click here.