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Schools and education

Attendance and truancy

Parents are responsible for making sure that their children of compulsory school age receive a suitable full-time education.

This can be by regular attendance at a registered education setting or otherwise, for example, the parent can choose to educate their child at home.

School attendance - going in, not missing out

Coming to school every day helps children to have fun, to learn, to make new friends and to experience new things. It prepares them for adult life and provides opportunities to gain qualifications and skills.

The evidence shows that missing even a few mornings or afternoons each week or month can make it much harder for your child to keep up with their learning and to be a full part of their school.

In the longer term, we know that children who regularly miss school are less likely to get the good qualifications and skills which can help them to get a job.

Consequences of poor attendance

We have the right to issue parents with a fine ('fixed penalty notice') or prosecute them if their child does not attend school regularly.

Penalty notices are fines of £60 or £120, dependent on when paid, imposed on parents.

Responsibility of the School

Schools must keep a record of pupils' attendance. The government provide more information and guidance about school attendance.

Schools have to decide whether absences are authorised or unauthorised.

Unauthorised absences include:

  • being absent for a holiday in term time, unless agreed with the school
  • minding the house
  • looking after siblings or parents
  • going shopping
  • celebrating a birthday
  • oversleeping
  • arriving late for school

Authorised absence may include:

  • illness
  • medical appointments
  • days of religious observance
  • leave granted in exceptional circumstances

Only the headteacher can authorise a child's absence from school.

If you know that your child will need to be off school for some time you must contact the school in good time, requesting a leave of absence, ideally at least 14 days before any planned absence is taken. Unexpected absences should be communicated to schools on the same day.

The school may agree, or may reply saying the absence is not authorised.

Schools will follow up all absences, so you may receive a telephone call, email or text message to check where your child is.

The school will have a strong universal offer for attendance. Where issues arise, schools will use the City of York Council Graduated Response to engage with early help strategies and multi agency partners, as well as offering enhanced support in school:

  1. if your school is worried that your child is not coming to school regularly, you may receive a warning letter
  2. the school will get in touch with you and will offer to talk to you about what you and they can do to help your child to school every day
  3. the school will review attendance 4 weeks later to see if your child has been at school regularly
  4. if they are still not going to school regularly, your school will work with you through an Attendance Panel to set a target for when your child's attendance needs to improve
  5. if they don’t meet this target, then the school can request that the local authority consider issuing a fixed penalty notice
  6. the local authority may then issue a fixed penalty notice following a request by the school

Helping your child have good attendance at school

Parents can help their child have good attendance at school by making sure they arrive on time, take holidays when schools are closed, making sure that medical appointments are made, where possible, outside school hours.

If a parent is concerned about their child’s education then they should talk to the school as soon as possible.

Further information

You may find useful information and help through:

CAMHS Single Point of Access
Telephone: 01904 615345

CAMHS Crisis Line
Telephone: 0800 0516171

Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
Telephone: 01904 551900

Also see

Education Support Services

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA

Telephone: 01904 551554