School attendance
Produced in partnership with Christopher McFarland of Sinclairs Law and Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors
School attendance

The following Local Government practice note produced in partnership with Christopher McFarland of Sinclairs Law and Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • School attendance
  • Compulsory school age
  • Education otherwise than at school
  • School registers
  • Enforcement of compulsory school attendance
  • Truancy sweeps

School attendance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance on subjects impacted by the Coronavirus Act 2020 (CA 2020). CA 2020, ss 37–38, Sch 16 Pt 1–Sch 16 Pt 3, Sch 17 Pt 1–Sch 17 Pt 3, among other measures, make provision to require temporary closure of educational institutions and to make temporary continuity directions in relation to childcare, education and training by way of statutory instruments and/or guidance.

Starting in the 2020 autumn term, pupil attendance will return to being mandatory save in circumstances where pupils cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19). In this case, parents would not be penalised and this would not count as an absence. See: Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/816 and Addendum: recording attendance in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) during the 2020 to 2021 academic year. For further information as to the current impact on this content, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19)—education tracker.

Compulsory school age

Children of compulsory school age are required to be in education (although not necessarily in school). The starting point for any question of the adequacy of a child’s school attendance is to ask whether the child is of compulsory school age. A child begins to be of compulsory school age:

  1. when they attain the age of five, if they attain that age on a prescribed day, and

  2. otherwise at

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