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School attendance

We want all school children in Durham to get the most out of their education, and attending school regularly is an important part of your child's education. We are here to support you if your child has any problems attending school.

Having a good education will help to give your child the best possible start in life. Most children are normally educated at school and regular attendance is vitally important. Poor school attendance damages educational achievement and the future progress of young people. Promoting and supporting good attendance at school is essential to learning and attainment.  

What can parents do to help?

Make sure that your child goes to school regularly, arrives on time and keeps to the school's rules on going to all lessons. It's a good idea to start these positive habits at an early age, while your child is in primary school.

  • If your child starts missing school, help the school to put things right. Make sure your child understands that you do not approve of him or her missing school.
  • If your child is ill, contact the school on the first day of your child's illness. Staff will be concerned if they do not hear anything.
  • If your child is ever off school, you must tell the school why. Do this by following the arrangements put in place by the school.
  • If you want permission for your child to miss school, for example because of a special occasion such as a wedding, you should ask for permission well in advance and give full details.
  • Do not expect the school to agree to shopping trips during school hours.
  • Take an interest in your child's school work.

Who to contact if your child is missing school

If you are experiencing any problems with your child attending school, you should contact the school. The school can help you to resolve any issues or difficulties in the first instance. Sometimes, the school may need to involve other services to provide help and support. If this is the case, you need to work with the school to look at your difficulties so that they can best consider who may be able to help.

What happens if your child does not attend school?

By law, all children of compulsory school age must be provided with a suitable full-time education. As a parent, you are responsible for making sure this happens, either by registering your child at a school and ensuring your child's regular attendance, or by making other arrangements which provide an effective education.

The school and the council want to help you if you have a problem. If attendance does not get better and there are no good reasons for the absences, or if you do not accept the help and support offered, we may have no other option than to consider enforcement action.


You need to make sure your child attends school regularly and on time. Because parents are responsible for this duty in law, you will be breaking the law if you do not do this and there are no good reasons for missing school. This could result in you being issued a fixed penalty notice and/or a possibility of imprisonment for up to three months. See our  Icon for pdf Factsheet: Penalty notices to address poor attendance at school (PDF, 254.9kb) .

Contact us
School attendance (legal action enquiries)
03000 265 526/527

One Point
03000 261 111
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