Skip to main content

School attendance

Attending school regularly is very important to your child’s future. Children who miss school frequently can easily fall behind with their school work and may do less well in their exams.

We, like all local authorities, have a duty to promote good school attendance for all children registered at their schools. 

Research shows that children who do not attend school regularly achieve less well in their tests and exams and have more likelihood of being involved in anti-social behaviour or crime.

The law

By law, all children reach compulsory school age at the beginning of the first term following their fifth birthday.

Once a child is of compulsory school age, they must receive suitable full-time education. For most parents / carers, this means registering their child at a school. However, 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 and there are no exceptional circumstances for an absence, you are at risk of receiving a penalty notice or prosecution in court.

Unacceptable absences

  • Birthdays
  • Family visits
  • Shopping
  • Looking after other family members

Only the school can authorise absences. If you know your child is going to be absent, you must notify the school in advance with full details.


If a school identifies a child as having low attendance, the school will send letters expressing their concern and to ask parents to get in touch. The Attendance Service is also notified.

Within the letter, the school may request a meeting to advise parents of legal responsibilities and examine any issues that may be causing poor attendance and draw up an action plan to improve the situation. If parents do not attend this meeting, the Attendance Officer will offer a home visit to discuss the concerns.

If there is no improvement in the child's attendance, a legal meeting will be held. Following this, if there is still no improvement, legal proceedings may follow.

View information on school attendance and absence on the GOV.UK website.

Holidays in term time

Full school attendance is vital for your child’s educational progress. We expect all parents and carers to ensure their children attend school whenever possible. All Peterborough schools discourage any term time absence.

Request a leave of absence

If you want to take your child out of school, you must complete the school's leave of absence request form. The school will then consider the request. 

Absence without permission

If you choose to take your child out of school for a holiday or any other leave of absence without permission from school, it will be recorded as a period of unauthorised absence. This means that you may receive a penalty notice (a fine) to pay.

View information on school attendance and absence on the GOV.UK website.

Pay a school attendance fine

If a penalty notice for non-attendance is paid within 21 days, the charge is £60 per parent per child. If paid within 28 days, the charge is £120 per child per parent.

Failure to pay a school attendance fine within 28 days

If you fail to pay the fixed penalty notice within 28 days, you must not use this online payment process. This is because we're preparing the case for court.

You do not have an option now to discharge liability for the offence. You will receive a court date from our legal department.

We will refund any payment we receive from you and confirm this in a letter to you once we have made the refund.