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Attendance Advice and Guidance for Parents/Carers

Attendance Advice and Guidance for Parents/Carers

Who is a parent?    

Section 576 of the Education Act 1996 defines parent as:

  • All natural parents, whether married or not;
  • Any person who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility for a child or young person;
  • Any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person. Having care of a child or young person means that a person with whom the child lives and who looks after the child, irrespective of what their relationship is with the child, is considered to be a parent in education law.


Responsibilities of a parent:

By law, all children of compulsory school age must receive a suitable full-time education.  As a parent, you have a legal responsibility to make sure that this happens – whether by registering your child at a school, or by making other arrangements to give them a suitable, full-time education.  Once your child is registered at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure that they attend regularly.  

The 1996 Education Act states that:

“the parents of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable – 

a)To his/her age, ability and aptitude and

b)To any special educational needs he may have, either by regular school attendance or otherwise”

Failure to do so may result in parents receiving a Penalty Notice fine of £60 if paid within 21 days or £120 if paid after 22-28 days or prosecution if unpaid AND/OR prosecution in the Magistrate’s Court, where upon conviction the following sentences can be imposed:

  • fines of up to £2500 AND/OR
  • 3 months imprisonment AND/OR
  • A Parenting Order 


You must make sure your child gets a full-time education that meets their needs (for example if they have special educational needs). You can send your child to school or educate them yourself, see: EHE Pages

If your child has Special Educational Needs and you require independent advice please contact SENDIASS 

Children must get an education between the school term after their 5th birthday and the last Friday in June in the school year they turn 16. 

You can be prosecuted if you don’t give your child an education. You will get warnings and offers of help from the school and the Education Welfare Service first.

Fast Track leaflet

Department for Education Guidance