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

The following Local Government guidance note Produced in partnership with Nicholas Hancox of Nicholas Hancox Solicitors Ltd and Christopher McFarland of Sinclairs Law 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

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 the beginning of the prescribed day next following their attaining that age

The prescribed days for the start of compulsory school age are 31 August, 31 December and 31 March in each year.

A person ceases to be of compulsory school age at the end of the day which is the school leaving date for the school year during which they have their 16th birthday. The school leaving date is the last Friday in June. However, note that in England the 'duty to participate' set out in section 2 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 (ESA 2008) requires education or training to continue beyond compulsory school age. Unlike the duty on parents to send children of compulsory school age to school, the 2008 Act 'duty to participate' imposes upon the students themselves a duty to participate in 'appropriate full-time education or training' until the age of 18,