Lateness & Unauthorised Absence

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Consequences to parents and pupils of being absent and late.

Unauthorised absence or your child being frequently late could result in fine or prosecution.

Every school, by law, has to register pupils twice a day; first thing in the morning at the start of the school day, and again in the afternoon session. If a pupils is fails to attend or arrives late they can be marked as an absence for that session.

If a pupil of compulsory school age is absent, the register must show whether the absence was authorised (acceptable) or unauthorised (where no acceptable reason is given for absence). Only the school can approve the reason for absence.

Authorised absence from school

Where a pupil is absence due to sickness and is genuinely unable to attend school,  then the school, after being informed, may authorise a child’s absence.

It is important to keep the school informed if your child is going to be absent at the start of the day. The school will have a clear process for you to follow.

In law only a headteacher can authorise a pupil’s absence, and may require additional evidence such as a letter from your GP.

Unauthorised absence (truancy)

The law states that parent/carer(s) must ensure that their child regularly attends the school where they are registered. Should your child fail to attend school regularly legal action may be taken against you.

Once a child is registered in school, attendance is compulsory until the last Friday in June of the academic year in which the child turns 16 (Year 11). It is a parent’s legal responsibility to ensure that their child, when of statutory school age, accesses education appropriate to age, needs and ability.

Under the terms of the education related provisions of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, parent/carer(s) may be issued with a Penalty Notice of £60 if:

  • You fail to ensure that your child attends school, or other education provision regularly
  • You allow your child to take leave of absence in term time without a school’s authorisation
  • Your fail to return your child to school on an agreed date after a leave of absence
  • Your child is found out of school, without permission, on two Truancy Sweeps, within the same school year
  • Your child persistently arrives late for school after the register is closed
Legal powers

We have legal powers to take action via the courts for persistent non-attenders.

Under Section 444(1) of the Education Act of 1996, parent/carer(s) can be prosecuted for failure to ensure regular school attendance via the Magistrate Court. The penalty for an offence under this act can be a fine up to £1,000.

There is a more serious offence under Section 444(1a) (in circumstances where the parent knows that his/her child is failing to attend school regularly and fails without reasonable justification to cause him/her to do so) for which there is a maximum fine of £2,500, a term of imprisonment of up to 3 months, or both. A warrant could be issued requesting the defendant to attend court for sentencing.

We can also take action via the Family Proceedings Court under Section 36 of the Children Act 1989 and apply for an Education Supervision Order, making the LA (local authority) responsible for the education of the child. This action is taken to support parents.

We can serve School Attendance Orders under sections 437-443 of the Education Act 1996 in respect of pupils who are not registered at any school or registered to be receiving education rather than at school.

Having concerns

If you are concerned about your child’s attendance you should initially speak to staff at your child’s school. Support may also be available from your Early Intervention Hub.

The school day starts at:

  • 8:55am – 3:15pm (Year 1 – Year 6)
  • 8:50am – 3:10pm (Reception)
  • 8:45am – 11:45am  &  12:25pm – 3:25pm (Nursery)
  • 8:30am – 11:30am  &  12:30pm – 3:30pm (Pre-School)

Unauthorised absence or your child being frequently late could result in fine or prosecution.

Lateness

  • It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure their children arrive at school on time. Lateness can disrupt the learning of others and can result in a pupil feeling greater stress and achieving poorer outcomes.
  • 90 per cent attendance means that your child is absent from lessons for the equivalent of one half day every week.
  • Over five years this is the equivalent of about one half of a school year.
  • Research shows a close link between attendance at school and a child’s achievement. Being late adds up to a loss of learning.
  • All time out of school affects learning and achievement for both pupils. Please make sure your child arrives at school on time.

If a pupil arrives after registration has closed the absence will be recorded as unauthorised for that session. If this persists legal action, in the form of a Penalty Notice or Prosecution under Section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996 may follow.

Minutes late per day Equivalent of missing
5 Minutes 3.4 school days a year
10 Minutes 6.9 school days a year
15 Minutes 10.3 school days a year
20 Minutes 13.8 school days a year
30 Minutes 20.7 school days a year

Family holidays and extended leave during term time

Amendments to the registration regulations remove references to family holidays and extended leave as well as the threshold of ten school days. The amendments make it clear that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances, which came into force on 1st September 2013.

Penalty fine

Should a school not agree to grant leave and parents take their child on holiday regardless, then this will be counted as unauthorised absence (truancy). The school and our Attendance and Engagement Officer may consider issuing a Penalty Fine of £60 for this period of unauthorised absence.