School attendance and children missing education

The law on school attendance and absence

By law all children of compulsory school age must receive a suitable full-time education.

This normally means registering their child at a school - though some choose to make other arrangements to provide a suitable, full-time education.

Once your child is registered at a school, you are legally responsible for making sure they attend regularly.

If your child fails to do so, you risk receiving a penalty notice or being prosecuted.

For more information please view our truancy fine page and read our Havering School Attendance Policy.

Preventing your child from missing school: what you can do

You can help prevent your child missing their education by:

  • ​making sure they understand the importance of good attendance and punctuality
  • taking an interest in their education - ask about school work and encourage them to get involved in school activities
  • discussing any problems they may have at school - inform their teacher or head teacher about anything serious
  • not letting them take time off school for minor ailments - particularly those which would not prevent you from going to work
  • arranging appointments and outings after school hours, at weekends or during school holidays will help to prevent disruption to your child's education and to the school. Under normal circumstances, you should not expect the school to agree to your child going on holiday during term time.

Children Missing Education (CME)

Children Missing Education are children and young people of compulsory school age who are not registered pupils at a school and not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school. 

For further information on how the LA are preventing, identifying and supporting Children Missing Education, please read our Children Missing Education (CME) Policy.

How we work

Schools can refer pupils to us when they are concerned about their school attendance. You can contact us for advice and information if you are having difficulty in making sure your child attends school regularly.

Other agencies such as health, social services and the police can also refer families to us. 

Attendance Officers check school attendance registers regularly. They will usually discuss your child's circumstances with the designated member of staff at the school if your child's attendance is a cause for concern.

We would rather work with you to improve your child's attendance and we would make every effort to contact you to discuss the concerns, this could be by letter or home visit.