Is your child in school today?

Parents must make sure their children get the right education to meet their needs. Being absent from school means your child will lose an opportunity to learn.

The law

All children between 5 and 16 years old must get an education. You could face legal action if your child does not attend school regularly and on time.

If you are sent to court, you may:

  • be fined up to £2,500; and/or
  • get a three months prison sentence.

Courts may also:

School Attendance Support Team (SAST) 

The School Attendance Support Team (SAST) helps with problems affecting your child’s attendance at school and can advise on educational needs or difficulties. The SAST steps in if your:

  • child’s attendance is poor; or
  • child has problems or difficulties which affect their attendance.

The School will contact you first to try to resolve these difficulties before referring your child to the SAST. The School Attendance Officer (SAO) helps to resolve any difficulties, and advises and informs parents of the legal responsibilities of everyone involved.

Contact the SAO

If you are concerned about your child's attendance, call the SAO on 020 8820 7288 or go to the school.


If your child is absent, you must contact the school the same day with the reason for their absence. The school will tell you if your child's absence or lateness causes concern and work with you to find a way to improve your child's attendance.

Authorised or unauthorised absences

Absences can only be authorised by your child's school.

Genuine reasons for absence, include the following:

  • Sickness
  • Medical or dental appointments
  • Days of religious observance
  • Exceptional family circumstances e.g. bereavement

The following absences will not be authorised by your child's school:

  • Looking after the house
  • Looking after brothers and sisters or sick relatives
  • Shopping
  • Birthdays
  • Translating


School Attendance Officer

020 8820 7288
This page was last modified on: 17 Apr 2024