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Luton Borough Council

School attendance

Every child has a right to an efficient and suitable full time education and it is a parent’s legal duty to ensure this happens. Where parents have chosen to register their child at a school they must ensure their child attends school regularly. The school and the local authority monitors school attendance and the local authority considers court action against parents whose children do not attend school regularly.

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Children must get an education between the school term after their fifth birthday and the last Friday of June in year 11.

Please note: pupils cannot leave school when they turn 16 years old, all pupils now finish school at the same time.

The government state that a child who attends school 90 per cent or below is a persistent absentee. However, appropriate levels of attendance depend on the child’s individual circumstances. Good attendance however is above 96 per cent and children should not have unauthorised absence as this means the absence is illegal.

Parents are responsible for ensuring that a child receives an education. One way you can do this is by registering them at a school and ensuring they attend school regularly. If a child is on a school roll, other adults who have day to day care of a child are also responsible for ensuring a child attends school.

The best way of fulfilling your legal duty for regular school attendance is by escorting the child to school and handing them over to the appropriate member of school staff.

Attendance generally has a direct link to attainment. Absence can also affect a child socially and impact on the way they see themselves as a learner. The government’s most recent research into the impact of absence on school showed that as absence increased, pupils attainment at year 6 SATS and year 11 GCSEs decreased even for those having a few days off of school.

Children can attend school under normal circumstances with minor symptoms. Parents have to make a judgement on when a child is really too unwell to leave the house and needs to stay at home and rest.

However, if a child has frequent absences schools have a responsibility to verify if the level of absence is necessary. If you are unsure whether to send a child into school or not you can send them in and let the school know your concerns so they can monitor the situation and send the child home as appropriate.

If you are unable to get a medical appointment outside of school time you should send your child into school wherever possible either side of this.

  • Good school attendance starts with good home routines, ensure your child gets to bed at the right time and is not in front of an electronic screen an hour before they should be going to sleep.
  • Always contact school staff for help at the earliest opportunity.
  • Never cover for your child’s absence this only empowers a child to do what they want to do and prevents you from controlling the situation, tell the school exactly why the child is not coming into school.
  • Accept help offered and respond to the advice given.
  • Accept referrals to explore different strategies
  • If you don’t understand anything or are not happy with what is happening you need to tell school staff or Education Welfare staff so that we can try to answer your questions or concerns.
  • Be positive about the school to your child even if you have concerns. Concerns need to be raised and addressed with school staff but never run a school down in front of your child.
  • Listen to your child, spend time with them to give them space to talk about what is concerning them and reassure them that there is no problem too big or too small that they can’t talk about, we have to work harder at this with teenagers than younger children and it is often best to engage a teenager in an activity to create the space for them to open up.
  • If you feel your child is anxious contact your GP to discuss this.
  • Take a parenting class, parenting is the hardest job in the world and the most rewarding
  • Attend all the appointments given where possible or if you can’t attend, contact the education welfare officer (EWO) or professional to rearrange.

If the authenticity of illness is in doubt, schools can request parents provide medical evidence to support illness. The right evidence will vary depending on the situation but it needs to prove that the child was unable to attend on that session. Medical evidence can take the form of prescriptions, appointment cards, hospital letters, discharge notes etc rather than doctors’ notes.

This means that your child has unauthorised (illegal) absence and the local authority is making you aware that they are collecting evidence for a possible prosecution case if this continues. You will not be prosecuted without being made aware of this by an EWO either by letter or verbally.

At court you will be prosecuted for failing to send your child to school regularly (this means your case will be heard in court and if you are found guilty of breaking the law you can receive a criminal record plus a fine/community service/custodial sentence and court costs).

You will be asked to give your plea of guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty the case will be adjourned for a trial and recommended to seek legal advice, if you plead guilty the prosecutor will outline the facts for the court and you will then be given an opportunity to give your side of things before the court makes a judgement.

If you are prosecuted and found guilty of the offence of failing to send your child to school regularly you will receive a criminal record. If you have initially been given the option of paying a penalty notice, you will not receive a criminal record if the fine is paid.

Yes, if your child attends school after the register is closed they will receive an unauthorised late mark which is an unauthorised absence.

No, it is schools discretion whether to authorise the absence or not. Absence should only be for unavoidable reasons. Schools generally will accept the reason given to them by parents but if they have cause for concern they do not have to authorise the absence and they may request evidence to support the reason given.

The day must be exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which the parents belong. It is one day per religious observance so for example Eid absence would be one day per Eid. Parents must apply for religious observance absence directly to the school.

Most EWOs are based in schools. Please either contact your child’s school for their telephone number or call Education Welfare on 01582 548174.

Contact info
Education Welfare Service

Tel: 01582 548174

[email protected]


© 2022 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ