Failure to secure attendance at school
Produced in partnership with Mark Blois of Browne Jacobson LLP
Failure to secure attendance at school

The following Local Government guidance note Produced in partnership with Mark Blois of Browne Jacobson LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Failure to secure attendance at school
  • The offences of failing to secure regular attendance at school
  • Fails to attend regularly
  • Proof of regular attendance
  • Statutory exemptions
  • Pupils at boarding school
  • Children of no fixed abode
  • Sentencing for the offences of failing to secure regular attendance
  • Alternatives to prosecution

The offences of failing to secure regular attendance at school

The Education Act 1996 (EA 1996) imposes criminal liability on a parent who fails to ensure that their child receives regular education.

All the offences created by the EA 1996 are summary only, which means they can only be tried in the magistrates' court.

See Education Act offences.

Before taking legal action, the local authority must consider whether they should apply for an Education Supervision Order. See Practice Note: Education supervision orders.

The EA 1996 creates two offences relating to the failure of a parent to secure a registered pupils's attendance at school.

The first offence, under the EA 1996, s 444(1) is a strict liability or absolute offence. Proof of the parent's mental state is not required.

The prosecution must prove that:

  1. a child of compulsory school age

  2. registered at a school

  3. fails to attend regularly

There is no statutory defence to this offence.

The High Court ruled in West Sussex County Council v C that a sole carer's 'chaotic lifestyle' did not amount to an 'unavoidable cause' within the meaning of s 444(2A) and could not amount to a defence.

The second offence under the EA 1996, s 444(1A) is identical in terms to the strict liability offence under the EA 1996, s 444(1) but requires proof of knowledge or fault on the part of