School Attendance

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 misses more than five days of school, and you don’t give the school proof of the medical problem, the school will record the absence as unauthorised.


Truancy is when your child misses lessons or doesn’t go to school because she or he chooses not to.

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. 

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. Find out more about how we can support you to make sure your child goes to school regularly and on time.

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.

Pay a non-attendance penalty notice

Legal action

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.

Code of conduct

For more information you can read our Code of conduct for the issuing of penalty notices document (PDF)