The school has a duty to report persistent absentees to the Local Authority and the Department for Education.
The school reports on the number of sessions a pupil is absent. The number of sessions can result in a child being classified as a persistent absentee (Under 90%). This is then recorded by the Local Authority and Department for Education.
If persistent absences are unauthorised by the school, then the matter may be referred to the Education Support Service to investigate whether an offence has been committed under Section 444(1)(1a) of the Education Act 1996 for failing to ensure regular school attendance of your child, which can result in legal intervention.
Section 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996 states:
If a child of compulsory school age who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at school, his/her parents are guilty of an offence.
Section 444 (1A) goes on to state:
If in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (1) the parent knows that his child is failing to attend regularly at the school and fails to cause him to do so, s/he is guilty of an offence.
Once you have registered your child at a school, you are legally responsible for ensuring that your child attends school regularly. Failure to do so can result in legal action being taken against you by the Local Authority.
I do not live with the child or I am a step parent can I still be prosecuted?
Yes, Section 576 Education Act 1996 defines ‘parent’ as:
- Any biological parent, whether married or not
- Any parent who, although not a biological parent, has parental responsibility as defined in the Children’s Act (1989) for a child or young person
- Any person, who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person on a day to day basis.
A person typically has care of a child or young person if the child lives with them either full or part time and they look after them, irrespective of what their biological or legal relationship is with the child.