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Legal obligations of parents and guardians

By law, all children over five years old must have appropriate full-time education.

Since September 2015, all young people must continue in education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 18.

If you are the parent or carer of a child over five years old, you are responsible for making sure this happens. You should do this by:

  • registering your child at a school
  • ensuring that your child attends school regularly.

If your child is not attending school, you must make other arrangements to provide your child with an efficient education suited to their age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs.

School attendance

Regular attendance at school will:

  • give your child the best possible start in life
  • enable your child to reach their full potential
  • prove to employers that your child is reliable and assist him or her in getting a good job
  • reduce the risk of your child becoming a victim of crime or abuse
  • reduce the opportunity for your child to be drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour.

What does regular attendance mean?

Regular attendance means that your child must:

  • attend school every day unless there are justified reasons
  • arrive at school on time
  • go to all lessons.

How can I encourage regular attendance?

You should start the habits of regular school attendance at an early age. If your child starts missing school:

  • make early contact with the school
  • help the school to put things right
  • make sure that your child understands that you do not approve of him or her being absent.

Remember that your child must not be kept away from school for reasons such as:

  • looking after others at home
  • minding the house
  • visiting relatives
  • taking long weekends
  • shopping trips
  • birthday treats.

What do I do if my child is ill?

If your child is ill you should contact the school as early as you can on the first day of absence. You can contact them by phone, send a note or call at the school office.

On your child's return to school, send a note giving the reason for your child's absence. Remember to date and sign the note.

What about absence for other reasons?

If your child is ever off school you must tell the school why. If you want your child to miss school for a special reason you must ask the school for permission well in advance and give full details.

The school will give careful consideration to your application, and they may take your child's attendance record into account. They may not necessarily agree to your request, and therefore any absence would be unauthorised.