Children and young people are only allowed to be out of school for a valid reason, such as:
- travelling to or from a medical or dental appointment
- a pre-arranged absence from school for family reasons or for religious observance
- travelling to or from a work experience placement.
The local authority representatives and the police have the power to carry out regular truancy sweeps across the county. Pupils found to be out of school without a suitable reason can be returned to school.
Adults accompanying pupils will be asked for an explanation as to why they are absent. This information is fed back to schools and follow-up checks on the pupil’s attendance are made.
Legal action and fines
There are various actions that the local authority can take if your child persistently truants or fails to attend school regularly. These include:
- an application to the Court for an Education Supervision Order or a School Attendance Order
- the imposing of a Fixed Penalty Fine of £60 or £120
- prosecution, which could lead to a fine of up to £2,500 or imprisonment.
How to prevent truancy
- Set good patterns of attendance and punctuality from the time your child starts school.
- Keep in regular contact with the school by attending parents’ evenings.
- Keep the school informed if your child has to be absent for a genuine reason, such as illness.
- Support the school in its efforts to control poor behaviour and encourage your child to understand and obey school rules.
- Don’t keep your child off school for birthdays, shopping trips, treats or non-urgent medical and dental appointments - these can all be done once school is over.
- Avoid taking holidays in term time, as this can unsettle your child and make it difficult for them to catch up on the work missed.