It is the law that parents or carers must make sure their child of compulsory school age receives a full-time education, either by attending school or through alternative education arrangements.

If your child attends school, as a parent or carer you are responsible for making sure they go on time every day. It is essential for all children to attend their school, college, or nursery as often as possible.

Absence from school

You must tell your school if your child is not able to attend. This might be because they are ill or have experienced a family emergency. It is up to your school to decide if they will authorise the absence or not.

If the headteacher does not agree they will record it on the register as an unauthorised absence. If this happens a lot, it may lead to legal action being taken against you.

If your child is ill they should return to school as soon as they can. The NHS: Healthier Together guide under supporting information provides you with advice on common childhood illnesses and when children can return to school.

If your child does not attend school regularly

Your school will try to help you get your child back to school. They should contact you in the first instance to raise concerns about your child’s attendance. They may arrange meetings with you to explore how they can support your child to re-engage in their learning and be able to attend. If they see no improvement, they will ask us for help. Your will be able to find out more about your school's absence policy on their website.

After this, if you do not meet your responsibility to make sure that your child goes to school then legal action may be taken. This could mean:

  • a fine of £120 per parent or carer for holidays in term time or poor attendance and/or punctuality
  • prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court which could result in you receiving a Community Order, a fine of up to £2,500 per parent or carer, or a custodial sentence
  • your child being issued an Education Supervision Order which would mean them attending court and measures being put in place regarding attendance at school

If you are worried about your child’s attendance the first thing to do is to contact the school to discuss your concerns. If you need more help you can contact us on sheffieldinclusion&attendance@sheffield.gov.uk.

Holidays during term time

The law states that parents or carers do not have a right to take their child out of school for a holiday during term time. Term time holidays in Sheffield will not be authorised unless there are exceptional reasons. If you take your child out of school without the school's permission, you may be issued with a penalty fine.

Late arrivals

Schools are legally required to take a register of pupils first thing in the morning and at some point in the afternoon. The government advises that schools can keep the register open for up to 30 minutes although schools can set a shorter period.

If a pupil is late but the register is still open, they are marked as late. If the register has closed and there isn’t a satisfactory explanation, this may be classed as an unauthorised absence. Repeated late attendance can lead to legal action.

Our top tips for good school attendance

  1. create good attendance habits from when your child first goes to nursery
  2. talk to your child about the importance of school for their future
  3. take a positive interest in your child's work, including helping them with homework
  4. help your child to get into a good night-time, sleep time and morning routine
  5. have a good relationship with school, talk to them about concerns you have and your child’s progress
  6. contact school on the first day of absence if your child is not able to attend
  7. be honest with school if your child is absent or not wanting to attend
  8. book all holidays in the school holidays and not in term time
  9. book medical appointments after school or during the school holidays. If you can’t, then make sure your child attends before and after their appointment
  10. prioritise school attendance over other activities and ask for help if you need it

For help and advice you can contact your child’s school or get in touch with us at sheffieldinclusion&attendance@sheffield.gov.uk.

Contact Inclusion and Attendance Service