The law states:
“Every parent with children of compulsory school age must make sure that their children receive efficient full-time education suitable to their age aptitude and ability (and to any special education needs they may have) either by attending school or otherwise.”
Compulsory being the term after your child’s 5th birthday up to the last Friday in the month of June in the academic year of their 16th birthday.
This means that parents or carers have a legal responsibility to make sure that their child is educated, but this does not have to be in school.
The law and attendance
- Parents are committing an offence if they fail to ensure their child's regular attendance at school or otherwise.
- Prosecution could result in a fine of up to £2,500, a jail sentence of up to three months or a community sentence.
- Alternatively, Education Welfare Officers, Police Officers and head teachers have the authority to issue penalty notices to parents of between £50 and £100. Failure to pay a properly issued penalty notice will result in prosecution as set out above.
- Parenting contract - where parents need support to prevent their child from truanting, schools and local authorities (LAs) may offer to enter into a parenting contract. This is a voluntary two sided agreement between the parent and school or LA under which the parent agrees to comply with certain requirements and the school or LA agrees to provide them with the support that they need.
- Parenting Order – where parents fail to ensure regular attendance, do not to engage with support services or a parenting contract, a parenting order may be requested by the Local Authority or imposed by the Magistrates. This is not a voluntary agreement and requires that parents attend parenting classes for a maximum period of up to 12 weeks. The order may be given for a period of up to 12 months and would require parents to have regular contact with a supervising officer – usually the Education Welfare Officer.