School attendance and absence

Do I have to go to school?

If you are registered at a school and you are of compulsory school age (5-16), your parents, by law, must make sure that you go to school regularly.

Your school will have an attendance register. If you do not go to school on a particular day you will be noted down as absent: this can be authorised or unauthorised.

What is an authorised absence?

An authorised absence is when your school has agreed with the reason why you are not at school. A school will agree with an absence if:

  • You are too ill to go to school and the school agrees to this. If you are off for a long time the school may ask for proof from your doctor.
  • Your parent has asked for permission from the school beforehand for example for a holiday or religious observation.
  • You have been excluded.
  • You have a medical or dental appointment.
  • You are on study leave.
  • You are being educated off-site.

If the school authorised your absence, then they have accepted the reason which has been given and they will not take any further action.

What is an unauthorised absence?

If a school has not agreed with the reason why you are not at school then they may record it as an unauthorised absence.

If you are regularly absent from school without authorisation, the School and Local Authority can take action. Your parents may get a fine (£60) or, in some circumstances, your parents may be prosecuted by the Local Authority and have to go to court. The most your parents can be fined is £2500.

If you are scared or worried about attending school for whatever reason, speak to your parents or a teacher so that your concerns can be addressed.