Home > Education > Understanding Truancy Laws

Understanding Truancy Laws

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 21 Oct 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Law And Parents Lawandparents

There are many different reasons why a child may play truant, but not only are they jeopardising their education, they are putting their parents into the firing line of the law.

Education and the Law

In the United Kingdom, children between the ages of 5 to 16 are obliged by law to receive a satisfactory level of full-time education, and parents should enforce this. However, there are children who are not receiving this level of full-time education because of the amount of time they spent playing truant, which is classed as unsanctioned time off. A teacher or head teacher has an obligation to ascertain from the child’s parents – in conjunction with a school welfare officer – why this truancy is taking place.

Why Children Play Truant

There most common reasons that children play truant are:

What Can Be Done to Combat Truancy?

The problem of lost educational time due to truancy is one that all schools have to face from time to time. The instances of truancy may be limited to one or two individuals or it can be attributed to a gang of pupils who have the same disliking for school. Either way the problem needs to be addressed and dealt with as quickly as possible.

One way is to monitor exactly when children are in class. This can be done by having them sign attendance cards which are then signed by their parents and returned to the child’s teacher. In some cases, the children who are playing truant can find themselves in the care of a learning mentor who may be able to (a) help them learn and (b) establish what the underlying problem is?

Parenting Contracts

Another option is to have parents sign up to a Parenting Contract; this written agreement is entered into between the parents of the child playing truant and also the local authority and school. These parenting contracts are not a legal and binding document, however, they are simply a means of attempting to engage the parents of the child in question in order to help them understand and deal with any behavioural issues the child may have.

Fines for Truancy

If a local authority decides that the circumstances surrounding persistent truancy are not being managed – or indeed are being influenced – by a parent, they can seek to prosecute the parent. This prosecution carries with it a hefty fine of up to £2,500 and, if the fine is not paid or the truancy continues, a magistrate can opt for a custodial sentence and also the intervention of social services.

For more information you should contact your Local Education Authority or your child’s school.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
i have just writ a letter and signed it to let my son be home schooled as they gave a choice to kick him out try another school i know he will only continue his behaviour if he went to another school but i have no idea what I'm doing can anyone help
Rose - 21-Oct-16 @ 11:16 AM
Bella14 - Your Question:
My daughter is 15 years of age, two years ago she had a major operation on her spine and has still not returned to school, as she states 'she does not feel ready'. I have twice been taken to court first time was a conditional discharge and the second time I received a probationary order. I have spoke with social services who have only just realised how serious this is. They have now held a meeting and because my daughter refuses to attend medical appointments that have concluded that I am neglecting her. Please help what should I do????

Our Response:
Work with social services, if you show them that you have done what you can for your daughter that will help. Have you been into school to speak with your daughter's teachers? What have they offered to do to help? You might want to try calling the Family Lives helpline for some specific advice.
LawAndParents - 21-Jun-16 @ 10:00 AM
My daughter is 15 years of age, two years ago she had a major operation on her spine and has still not returned to school, as she states 'she does not feel ready'.I have twice been taken to court first time was a conditional discharge and the second time I received a probationary order.I have spoke with social services who have only just realised how serious this is.They have now held a meeting and because my daughter refuses to attend medical appointments that have concluded that I am neglecting her..... Please help what should I do????
Bella14 - 19-Jun-16 @ 5:12 PM
Stephwar- Your Question:
The education welfare and the local support services don't seem to be doing much at all , they have denied me a family support worker as they have said that I don't need one , there seems to be no support for myself. Are there any charities that can help offer support or advice ?

Our Response:

Here are a few to try, let us know how you go on:
Family Lives
School Homes
Young Minds
LawAndParents - 17-Jun-16 @ 12:33 PM
The education welfare and the local support services don't seem to be doing much at all , they have denied me a family support worker as they have said that I don't need one , there seems to be no support for myself . Are there any charities that can help offer support or advice ?
Stephwar - 15-Jun-16 @ 11:04 PM
Stephwar- Your Question:
My son is nearly 15 and has been truanting , I have already paid a fine and he is still not going to school so I am now being taken to court , I have done everything in my power to get him to go including changing my hours at work so I can be at home in the morning , will the courts still prosecute me even though I have done everything I can ?, I have educational welfare involved but I don't believe I'm receiving the support that I need

Our Response:
That's really for the courts to decide, but if you present your case calmly and with all the facts, we'd hope that these would all duly considered. What is the education welfare officer doing to support you?
LawAndParents - 16-Mar-16 @ 1:57 PM
My son is nearly 15 and has been truanting , I have already paid a fine and he is still not going to school so I am now being taken to court , I have done everything in my power to get him to go including changing my hours at work so I can be at home in the morning , will the courts still prosecute me even though I have done everything I can ?, I have educational welfare involved but I don't believe I'm receiving the support that I need
Stephwar - 15-Mar-16 @ 7:13 PM
sammy - Your Question:
My husband has a daughter from a previous relationship it has recently come to our attention how poor her attendance is because we requested to see her attendance record and its 76% due to her telling us 'mummy didn't sending me to school and lied to my teacher and told me to lie' if the mother gets a truancy fine will my husband be responsible to pay half of the fine?

Our Response:
For the purposes of school policy etc a parent means: "All natural parents, whether they are married or not
Any person who has parental responsibility for a child or young person
Any person who has care of a child or young person i.e. lives with and looks after the child
The local authority and school will need to decide who comes within the definition of parent in respect of a particular pupil when using the legal measures, but generally parents include all those with day to day responsibility for a child." (.gov.uk)
LawAndParents - 4-Mar-16 @ 10:41 AM
my husband has a daughter from a previous relationship it has recently come to our attention how poor her attendance is because we requested to see her attendance record and its 76% due to her telling us 'mummy didn't sending me to school and lied to my teacher and told me to lie' if the mother gets a truancy fine will my husband be responsible to pay half of the fine?
sammy - 2-Mar-16 @ 11:48 AM
I no longer live with my sons mother. She took him away during school time and has been fined. However, I have also been sent a fine but to my exes address. The date for paying has passed and is being taken up by the courts. Surely I should not have to pay a fine when it has not been sent to my address and I have not lived with my ex for over 6 years?
hoggy - 20-Dec-15 @ 7:09 PM
@angie. While they both have PR, the parent with day to day care would be responsible. As a good dad with PR, your husband should be getting involved though to see if he can help resolve this situation.
LawAndParents - 10-Feb-15 @ 1:51 PM
my husbands son resides withhis mother my husbands ex wife his son has been refusing to go to school she is now saying that my husband is also liable to a fine is this righty ?
angie - 6-Feb-15 @ 6:01 PM
@lee. You need to discuss this with the school, find out what their policy is and ask for help for your daughter if this is an issue.
LawAndParents - 12-Dec-14 @ 12:09 PM
My child has ADHD and gets confused or distracted about where she is supposed to go for class (usually in the morning when her Ritalin hasn't fully taken effect) but is on school premises and at worst arrives late in class. The school have now said that they are recording these lates as truancy even though she never leaves school and despite her condition. I always thought that truancy was leaving the school premises or not arriving full stop. Are the school right to mark lates as truancy?
Lee - 11-Dec-14 @ 5:30 PM
@Dee. If the trip is part of the national curriculum - it's usual that all pupils will be expected to attend. Schools cannot however, exclude a child from taking part in an activity that is part of the national curriculum purely on the grounds that the parent or carer cannot make, or refuses to make, a contribution. Of the parent/carer cannot pay, then the school has to decide whether they can cover the costs of such activity from within the budget or by fundraising, or whether the activity has to be cancelled. If it's just the cost that's putting you off then you should speak to the school. Whether your child still has to go in to school on the day of the trip is at the school's discretion unfortunately. Most schools will however make arrangements for a child to go in with another class in these cases.
LawAndParents - 9-Dec-14 @ 12:18 PM
I didn't let my child go on a school trip and was told there wouldn't be any teachers at school for the kids that were not going on the trip and they would be marked absent. There was no mention of this in the letter. When i asked the headteacher about this she was more focused on the reason my child didnt go rather then what I was asking her. I'm concerned about this as these trips cost money and I cannot afford to send my kids on all the trips as I have 3 in school. I agree to let my child go to school but not on the trip. They travel on the train, three classes of 4-5yr olds in winter. My child is asmatic. And if she doesnt go on the trip she gets marked absent which wont look good on her report. Her attendece is always excellent and the school gives a reward for 100% attendance. The headteacher was no help and just said the school provide these learning trips and the children have to go or get marked absent. Can the school do this?  Or can the school force my child to go if my child didnt want to go on the trip?
Dee - 8-Dec-14 @ 9:45 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the LawAndParents website. Please read our Disclaimer.