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School absences and legal intervention

Find out what statutory legal intervention means and what you should do if you are referred for legal action.

As a parent you are responsible for ensuring your child receives a suitable education.

Failure to ensure your child regularly attends the school at which they are a registered pupil is a criminal offence under the Education Act 1996.

In the UK, education is compulsory for every child between the ages of 5-16 and they must remain in education or training until they are 18.

When a child’s attendance does not improve despite support and intervention provided by the school, the following will happen:

  • The parent or carer will receive a court warning letter.
  • An attendance panel meeting will be arranged as a final opportunity to address and support schools and parents to improve attendance
  • A parenting contract will be drawn up. This is a voluntary written agreement stating that the parent or carer will work with the council and school to improve the child’s attendance.
  • If attendance does not improve, legal action will be considered. This could be a penalty fine or prosecution.