School attendance and truancy

We offer advice and assistance to help your child make the most of school through regular attendance.


Children sometimes skip school without the knowledge of their parents. Some truant for whole days, others register and then truant from lessons. For a few it can develop into a habit, but with prompt action, understanding and care, truancy can be prevented or cured.

There are several reasons why children truant, including:

  • Fear of failure
  • Problems with school work
  • Boredom
  • Problems outside of school
  • Pressure from friends
  • Teenage rebellion
  • Bullying

We can advise you on any of the above problems or you can ask the school for advice and help if you have difficulty getting your child to attend for any reason.

Impact of poor attendance

Children will only make the most of the educational opportunities on offer if they attend school regularly and punctually. Missing even a couple of lessons per week will have a serious effect on your child's progress and is likely to lead to even more serious attendance problems as your child gets older.

The effect that poor attendance at school can have on a child’s education can be permanent and damaging. Children who attend school regularly are four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs, including English and Maths, than those who are persistently absent.

Persistent absence is a serious problem for pupils. Much of the work children miss when they are off school is never made up, leaving these pupils at a considerable disadvantage for the remainder of their school career.

There is also clear evidence of a link between poor attendance at school and low levels of achievement:

  • Of pupils who miss more than 50 per cent of school, only three per cent manage to achieve five A* to Cs including English and Maths
  • Of pupils who miss between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of school, only 35 per cent manage to achieve five A* to C GCSEs including English and Maths
  • Of pupils who miss less than five per cent of school, 73 per cent achieve five A* to Cs including English and Maths

Your responsibilities

As well as your right to help from us, you also have the following responsibilities for ensuring regular and punctual school attendance:

  • Parents/carers are responsible in law for ensuring that children of compulsory school age receive suitable full-time education (Section 7 of the Education Act 1996)
  • Where your child is registered at a school, the law requires regular attendance. This means attending school punctually every day and for the whole school day unless there is an acceptable reason (such as illness) for absence
  • Parents/carers are responsible for notifying schools if their child cannot attend
  • If attendance problems do develop, the school will expect parents/carers to work actively with school staff and us to solve them
  • Parents/carers do not have an automatic right to take children on holiday in term time and should get the school's agreement first

We can also take action through the Magistrates' Courts against parents/carers whose children are absent from school without good reason.

We always try to solve attendance problems by talking to the parents/carers, pupils and school involved. If we have to take action, we will give you a formal written warning and information about the process before you receive a summons. We will also ask you to attend the Borough Attendance Panel at the Town Hall to explain why your child has not been attending school regularly. Please note that you can be fined up to £2,500 in a Magistrates' Court if you are found guilty of not ensuring your child attends school regularly.

We can also take action under the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003. This allows the LEA to issue Fixed Penalty Notices which imposes a fine of up to £100 as an alternative to prosecution.

Every Wandsworth school has either an allocated Education Welfare Officer or School Attendance Officer (or sometimes both). The officer checks regularly on the attendance and punctuality of every pupil. If your child is absent without a good reason, the officer may contact you to find out the reason for absence and to help you to ensure your child attends school regularly.

You can make an appointment to see an officer either at your home or in school or at the Town Hall. We will arrange an interview for you between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday, at a time convenient to you. If you are not available between those hours it may be possible to arrange an appointment at another time convenient to you.

We will answer all telephone calls within 15 seconds and answer all letters within 10 working days.

Further information


Education Welfare Office

Telephone: 020 8871 8306 (office hours 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

If the Education Welfare Officer for your child's school is not available when you call, another officer will always be available to speak to you between these hours. Alternatively, you can make an appointment to speak to a duty officer.