School attendance

What the law says about attendance in school

All children must be in education from the school term after their fifth birthday. This is usually at a school, though parents can also decide to educate their children at home.

Compulsory education ends on the last Friday in June of Year 11, children are then expected to be in further education or training unless they're in employment.

GOV.UK gives guidance for parents on their responsibilities for getting their children to attend school, on sources of support if this is a problem and on the legal powers available to schools and local authorities in this area.

How we deal with poor attendance

If your child misses school without a good reason, the school will want to discuss this with you.

If you don't respond positively or your child’s attendance remains a problem, you can expect to be contacted by an Education Welfare Officer (EWO) or, for most secondary schools, a Targeted Youth Worker, who will advise you of your legal duties, and work with you to resolve problems.

Barnet’s Education Welfare Team works directly with almost all primary schools and the following secondary schools and academies:

  • Ashmole Academy
  • Archer Academy
  • Copthall
  • The Compton
  • Friern Barnet
  • Hendon
  • JCoSS
  • London Academy
  • Menorah High School for Girls
  • Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’
  • St Andrew the Apostle
  • St James’ Catholic High
  • Whitefield
  • Wren Academy 

The remaining secondary schools work with the Youth Service.

If your child’s attendance is below 90% unless due to serious medical issues  you should expect to be challenged about it.

Attendance absence fines

Parents who don't comply, face legal sanctions including prosecution or fixed-penalty notices. 


Taking holidays in school time is not acceptable.  Parents may ask for leave of absence for exceptional circumstances only and should expect a fixed-penalty notice for each child if they do not have their head teacher’s permission.


Children are sometimes too ill to attend school and their absences are authorised. If your child is often off sick, the school will require medical evidence.  If you have any health concerns about your child you should talk to their school. If you do not provide an adequate explanation, your child’s absences could remain unauthorised and subject to EWO action.


Education Welfare Team
2 Bristol Avenue

Telephone: 020 8359 7684