Regular attendance at school is important. Failing to attend school regularly can have a major impact on children’s education, their future and their life chances. Regular attendance means attending school every day, arriving at school on time and attending every lesson.
Under section 7 of the Education Act 1996, parents are responsible for ensuring their child (from age 5 to age 16) receives efficient full time education that is suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have. This can be through regular school attendance or through elective home education (EHE)
Parents who fail to ensure their children attend school regularly without good reason could be referred to the Education Safeguarding Team and:-
- Receive a Penalty Notice Fine of £60 per parent per pupil
- Be prosecuted in the Magistrate’s court and be fined up to £1,000
- In more serious offences, where parents have been previously prosecuted they could be fined up to £2,500 or face imprisonment
The legal measures available to Local Authorities in respect of School Attendance are detailed in the DFE document "School Attendance: Statutory Guidance and departmental advice" this document can be found here
What is the Education Safeguarding Team?
The Education Safeguarding Team (formerly known as the Education Social Work Service) is an external service run by Bradford Council. Their Attendance Officer (AO) will work directly with families where the school has identified high rates of unauthorised absence and attempts to improve/resolve the situation have been unsuccessful. They will:
- Undertake a comprehensive assessment with the family and where appropriate, the young person to identify barriers to attendance and learning
- Produce a clear plan detailing the expectations of the family, the school and the AO and share with all involved
- Ensure that parents/carers and pupils have access to appropriate help and support for any difficulties impacting on attendance
- Regularly review the plan, this can lead to legal sanctions but these may not be necessary if an improvement is achieved
It is the aim of the Education Safeguarding team to bring about sustainable improvement in pupils’ attendance