Attendance in schools

A good education will help to give your child the best possible start in life. Most children are normally educated at school and regular attendance is of vital importance. Poor school attendance damages educational achievement and the future progress of young people. Promoting and supporting good attendance at school is essential to learning and attainment.


The law

By law, all children of compulsory school age (between five and 16) are required to receive education at school or otherwise. Parents are responsible for making sure this happens, either by registering your child at a school or by making other arrangements to provide an effective education. If your child is registered as a pupil at a particular school, that school must give permission for him or her to be absent. If your child does not go to the school at which he or she is registered, the Local Authority could take legal action against you.

What can parents do to help?

  • Make sure that your child goes to school regularly, arrives on time and adheres to the school's rules on going to all lessons. It's a good idea to start these positive habits at an early age, while your child is in primary school
  • If your child starts missing school, we recommend that you work with the school to resolve any issues that may be preventing your child from maintaining regular attendance
  • If your child is ill, contact the school on the first day of your child's illness
  • If your child is ever off school, you must tell the school why. Do this by following the arrangements put in place by the school
  • If you want permission for your child to miss school, for example because of a special occasion such as a wedding, you should ask for permission well in advance and give full details
  • Take an interest in your child's school work

Family holidays during term time

From 1 September 2013, the Department of Education changed the regulations regarding requests for family holidays during term time.  The changes to the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 mean there is no legal entitlement for parents to take their children on holiday during term time.  The new regulations also make it clear that headteachers may not authorise leave during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.  Headteachers would not be expected to class any term time holiday as exceptional.

All requests for leave of absence in term time must be made in advance in writing on the leave of absence request form – available from the school.

The approval of leave of absence does not set a precedent for similar future requests and the frequency / duration of such leave periods will be considered as factors in any decision.

The council will use the full range of sanctions available where leave of absence is taken without the permission of the school.  The council will regularly monitor school absence during term-time and will work with headteachers to ensure parents adhere to the new legislation.

Knowsley Council

  • The local authority is responsible, by law, for making sure that registered pupils of compulsory school age attend their school regularly
  • We employ school attendance service staff to monitor school attendance and to help parents meet their responsibilities
  • School attendance staff work closely with schools
  • If your child is not attending school regularly, the school attendance service may visit you
  • It is important that you cooperate with the Local Authority to make sure your child overcomes his or her attendance problems and receives the best from their education

If you do not do everything you can to cooperate with the school and the school attendance service, we may have no choice but to consider instigating legal action. This could result in parents being issued a penalty notice of up to £120, fined up to £2,500 for each child who is not going to school and/or a possibility of imprisonment for up to three months.

Download Knowsley Council's Attendance Strategy for 2021-24.

Parenting contracts

Where parents need support to prevent their child from truanting, schools and local authorities may offer to enter into a parenting contract. This is a voluntary agreement between the parent and school or local authority where the parent agrees to comply with certain requirements and the school or local authority agrees to provide them with the support that they need.

Children missing from education

The Ofsted Out of School Report in 2004 estimated that there were approximately 10,000 children missing from education in the UK. In Knowsley we seek to ensure that all pupils have access to education. These ‘missing’ children can be amongst the most vulnerable.

If you know of a child who is missing from education we need to know - please contact 0151 443 5177.

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