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Last reviewed on 28 September 2021
Ref: 2504
School types: All · School phases: All

Parents have a legal responsibility to send their child to school. Read on for guidance on authorised absence and learn what to do if pupils aren't attending.

Parents are responsible for making sure their child attends school

All children of compulsory school age must receive a suitable full-time education.

Section 7 of The Education Act (1996) says parents must make sure their child is regularly attending school or 'otherwise' (i.e. another suitable alternative). Section 444(1) of the same Act says parents are guilty of an offence if their child doesn't regularly attend school.

The Department for Education (DfE) statutory guidance for schools (page 5) reiterates that responsibility for ensuring attendance lies with parents, including care givers or anyone with ‘parental responsibility’.

Neither the legislation nor the DfE’s guidance explains what is meant by 'regular' attendance, and there is no minimum number of days per year that a child needs to attend. However, your local authority (LA) by law must set out in its code of conduct what level of absence will lead to

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