FAQ about Attendance

Do you have a question about Attendance? You may find the answer here.


What is compulsory school age?

Children must get an education between the school term after their 5th birthday and the last Friday of June in year 11.

A child reaches compulsory school age on or after their 5th birthday

  • if they turn 5 between 1st Jaunary and 31st March, they are of compulsory school age on 31st March.
  • if they turn 5 between 1st April and 31st August, they are of compulsory school age on 31st August.
  • if they turn 5 between 1st September and 31st December, they are of compulsory school age on 31st December.

What level of school attendance is acceptable?

The Government state that a child has 90% or below school attendance can be regarded as a persistent absentee. However, appropriate levels of attendance depend on the child's individual circumstances. Good attendance however is above 96% and children should not have unauthorised absence as this means the absence is illegal.

What is my legal duty in relation to my child's education?

Parents are responsible for ensuring that a child receives an education. One way you can do this is by registering them at a school and ensuring they attend regularly. If a child is on a school roll, the adults who have day to day care of the child are responsible for ensuring a child attends school.

My child had a couple of weeks off school what difference does it make?

decerasedgenerally has a direct link to attainment. Absence can also affect a child socially and inpact on the way they see themselves as a learner. The government's research into the impact of absence on school showed that as absence increased, pupils attainment at year 6 SATS decreased even for those having a few days off school.

When is a child considered too ill for school?

However, if a child has frequent absences schools have a responsibility to verify if the level of absence is necessary. If you are unsure whether to send a child into school or not you can send them inand let the school know your concerns so they can monitor the situation and send them home if appropriate.

If I tell the school my child is sick do they have to authorise the absence?

NO. it's the school's discretion whether to authorise the absence or not. Absence should only be for unavoidable reasons. Schools generally will accept the reason given to them by parents but if they have cause for concern they do not have to authorise the absence and they may request evidence to support the reason given.

I can only get a medical appointment in school time, does the school have to authorise the whole day?

If you are unable to geta medical appointment outside of school time you should send your child into school wherever possible either side of this.

If my child is absent for religious observance do the school have to authorise this?

The day must be exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which the parents belong. It is one day per religious observance so for example Eid absence would be one day per Eid. Parents must apply for religious observance absence directly to the school.

My child refuses to go to school what can I do?

  • Good school attendance starts with good home routines, ensure your child gets to bed at the right time and is not in front of an electronic screen an hour before they should be going to sleep.
  • Always contact school for help at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • Never cover for your child's absence this only empowers a child to do what they want to do and prevents you from controlling the situation, tell the school exactly why the child is not coming to school.
  • Accept help offered and respond to the advice given.
  • Accept referrals to explore different strategies.
  • If you do not understand anything or are not happy with what is happening you need to tell the school so that they can try to answer your questions or concerns.
  • Be positive about the school to your child even if you have concerns. Concerns need to be raised and addressed with school but never run a school down in front of your child.
  • Listen to your child, spend time with them to give them space to talk about what is concerning them and reassure them that there is no problem too big or too small that they can't talk about. We have to work hader at this with teenagers than younger children and it is often best to engage a teenager in an activity to create the space for them to open up.
  • If you feel your child is anxious contact your GP to discuss this.

My child's school have said that they want supporting medical evidence, what kind of medical evidence is acceptable?

If the authenticity of an illness is in doubt, schools can request parents to provide medical evidence to support this illness. The right evidence will vary depending on the situation but it needs to prove that the child was unable to attend school at that time. Medical evidence can take the form of prescriptions, appointment cards, hospital letters, discharge notes etc ratherthan doctors' notes.

I have received a warning letter, what does this mean?

This means that your child has unauthorised (illegal) absence and the local authority is making you aware that they are collecting evidence for a possible prosecution case if this continues. You will not be prosecuted without being made aware in wrotong by the LA prior to any further action.

What is an Educational Penalty Notice (EPN)

An Educational Penalty Notice (EPN) is a fine which may be issued as an alternative to prosecution. It does not require a court apperarance and doesnot result in a criminal record. Payment of an EPN enables parents/carers to discharge the potential liabiloty for prosecution and subsequent conviction.

When is an Educational Penalty Notice issued?

An EPN is issued if a pupil has unauthorised absence from school and their parent/carer fails to co-operate with the school to improve the situation: or a if a pupil has unauthorised absence from school and this does not improve following a warning letter: or if a holiday is taken during term time despite the school not aurthorising the absence.

Further explanation of Educational Penalty Notice:

Penalty Notices will be issued by the Local Authority in the following circumstances:

  • your child has had 10 or more sessions (eg 5 days) of absence in a period of no more than one term or two half terms and meets the terms of prosecution.
  • your child has 10 session (eqivalent of 5 days) of unauthorised leave of absence in term time and you have been advised that the leave of absence doesn't constitute the Headteachers view of an exceptional circumstance.
  • your child has taken leave of absence in term time without parents/carers requesting authorisation from the school.
  • your child arrives late after the registers are closed on 10 or more separate occasions in any one term.
  • an exclusion has taken place and the parent/carer has allowed the child to be present in a public place without reasonable justification, during the first five days if a fixed or permanent exclusion.

What is the cost of an Educational Penalty Notice?

£60 per parent per child (if parents known to be living together) if paid within 21 days or £120 per parent per child (if parents know to be living together) if paid witiin 28 days of receiving the penalty notice in writing.

What happens if I go to court?

At court you will be prosecuted for failing to send your child to school regularly (this means your casse will be heard in court and if you are found guilty of breaking the law you can receive a criminal record plus a fine/ community service/ custodial sentence and court costs).

You will be asked to give your plea of guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty the case will be adjourned for a trial and you will be recommended to seek legal advice, if you plead guilty the prosecutor will outline the facts for the court and you will then be given the oppourtunity to give your side of things before the court makes a judgement.

Will I get a criminal record?

If you are prosecuted and found guilty of the offence of failing to send your child to school regularly you will receive a criminal record. If you have initially been given the option of paying a penalty notice, you will not receive a criminal record if the fine is paid.

For further information or advice contact

Wirral Attendance Service

Tel: 0151 666 3433

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Email: [email protected] 

Write to : Wirral Attendance Service

               Wirral Council

               PO Box 290

               Brighton Street



               CH27 9FQ


DFE School Attendance and Absence -https://www.gov.uk/school-attendance-absence

Student Login