All children of statutory school age (between ages 5-16) must receive an education appropriate to their needs. This means that the child’s parents or carers must ensure that the child is registered in a school and attends regularly or that appropriate alternative provision is in place.
The majority of children and young people access their education through the school system, attend regularly and achieve up to their capability. Only a minority of pupils become involved in incidents of truancy.
How could truancy affect my child?
- they may find trouble in keeping up with schoolwork
- they will miss out on the important social side of school - friendships, social activities, clubs, sport etc. which all help them to prepare for adult life
- they may be drawn into antisocial behaviour, or crime - research shows that children who fail to attend their school on a regular basis or persistently truant are less likely to achieve well and more likely to become involved in anti social behaviour and crime
- they will be more likely to be unemployed on leaving school
What can I do to prevent truancy?
- set good patterns of attendance and punctuality from the time your child starts school
- keep in regular contact with your child’s school, attending parents’ evenings etc. so that your child knows that you care about their progress
- keep the school informed if your child has to be absent for a genuine reason such as illness and contact the school on the first day of absence so that staff know that your child is safe
- support the school in their efforts to control poor behaviour and encourage your child to follow school rules
- don’t keep your child off school for birthdays, shopping trips or non-urgent medical and dental appointments - these can all be made when school is closed
- avoid taking holidays in term time as this can unsettle your child and make it difficult for them to catch up on the work missed
What should I do if my child truants?
- don’t cover up or make excuses
- let them know that you do not approve
- contact the school to discuss any problems that may be troubling your child
- ask for the contact details of the Education Welfare Officer for your child’s school - they will be able to offer advice and support your child if they are experiencing any problems
What are the legal consequences if my child truants?
- the Local Authority is responsible for checking that children registered at a school and of compulsory school age attend regularly - the Education Welfare Officer for your child’s school will follow up incidents of poor attendance and will be willing to work closely with you to try to overcome the truancy
- if your child persistently truants or fails to attend school regularly the Local Authority may decide on taking legal action to ensure their attendance
- there are various actions that the Local Authority may take which include an application to the Court for an Education Supervision Order, imposing a Fixed Penalty Fine or prosecution which could lead to a fine or even imprisonment