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As a parent/carer you are responsible for ensuring your children receive a suitable full time education.

Last academic year saw schools temporarily close for many children due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Schools have now re-opened and the Department for Education has confirmed that attendance for all pupils is mandatory.  This has been the case since the start of the Autumn 2020 term.  

If you need further information and guidance with relation to Covid-19 and your child’s return to full time education, please discuss any concerns with your child’s school immediately.  You should also read the Department for Education’s guidance document.

Absence is proven to have a significant negative impact upon a child’s educational attainment and further education.  Regular attendance is not only a legal requirement but is essential for children/young people to maximise their educational opportunities.

The Education Support Service (ESS) has a legal responsibility to monitor school attendance on behalf of Dudley Borough Council.  If a school has a concern about a child's attendance they will refer this to the ESS.

If you are experiencing difficulty with your child’s attendance, behaviour or accessing support to address any additional needs your child has you should always contact your child's school.  The school will then work with you to try and resolve any difficulties you have and/or identify appropriate levels of support or refer you for additional support services.  

You can also contact the service direct if you are concerned about your child's attendance. 

School attendance - the law

By law all children of compulsory school age (between age 5 and 16) must receive a suitable full-time education. Section 444 (1a) of the Education Act 1996 requires children and young people of compulsory school age to regularly attend the school at which they are on roll. It states if ‘the parent knows that their child is failing to attend regularly at school without reasonable justification to cause them to do so, they are guilty of an offence’. Upon conviction you may be fined up to £2,500 per parent, per child and/or up to 3 months imprisonment. 

Can I take my child on holiday during term time?

You should not book a family holiday during term time. Whilst you may think this is beneficial, taking a holiday during term time means that children miss important school time and it will be difficult for them to catch up on work.

It is at the discretion of the head teacher and governors of the school which the child attends as to whether leave during term time is authorised.  Head teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. In this instance the head teacher will determine the length of time a child can be away from school.  Please note leave is unlikely to be granted for the purposes of a family holiday. 

If after considering whether there are exceptional circumstances and the school does not agree the absences, you take your child out of school, the school may record this as unauthorised absence. This could result in a fixed penalty fine being issued by the local authority and as a result you may be fined in respect of each parent and each child, payable up to £120 for each. Therefore two parents and two children could potentially receive fines amounting to a maximum £480. If you choose not to pay the fine the local authority may take legal proceedings against you.

Late arrival at school

When your child arrives late at school, they miss important events like assembly, teacher instructions and introductions. Children also feel embarrassed at having to enter the classroom late.

Frequent lateness can add up to a considerable amount of learning being lost. This can seriously disadvantage your child and disrupt the learning of others. Please help your child to be punctual.


If a parent/carer doesn't secure regular attendance of their child at the school at which they are registered the ESS have a number of powers to help ensure these children are properly educated, these can include fixed penalty fines, school attendance orders and sometimes prosecution.

It can be extremely hard for a pupil to catch up on missed work, regular absence can really disadvantage your child in life.  Children who miss one day each week from school, are missing out on 20% of their education.

Attendance during one school year Equates to days absent Which is approximately this many weeks absent Which means this number of lessons missed
95% 9 days 2 weeks 50 lessons
90% 19 days 4 weeks 100 lessons
85% 29 days 6 weeks 150 lessons
80% 38 days 8 weeks 200 lessons

You may also find the documents below helpful for further information on absence, attendance and enforcement: