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Absence from school

If your child is unable to attend school, you need to contact the school by telephone or letter to inform them. The school may then authorise this absence.

You must also notify your child's school on the first day of any unplanned absence. If you don't do so, the school may contact you to check on the attendance.

If your child has been missing school without a reason, the absences will be unauthorised and will carry the risk of a penalty notice or prosecution.

Authorised absence
Unauthorised absence
Holidays in term time
What happens if your child is caught in a truancy sweep
Report a child missing education

Authorised absence

The following may be authorised by the school:

  • Entertainment
  • Leave in term time (you should ask permission first, by law, the school can only authorise in exceptional circumstances)
  • Short term emergency
  • Certain days for religious observation
  • Bereavement
  • Dentist or doctors' appointment (try to make appointments outside school time)
  • Hospital treatment

If possible, notify the school of any issues that may affect your child's attendance before the absence occurs.

Unauthorised absence

Unacceptable reasons for absence include

  • Shopping
  • Holidays in term time which are not authorised by your child's school
  • Hair cut
  • Truancy
  • Airport visits
  • Birthday treats
  • Days out / trips
  • Looking after brothers and sisters at home
  • Non-urgent medical or dental appointments
  • Oversleeping
  • Working

Please note that the decision to authorise absences rests with schools and not parents.

Holidays in term time

Headteachers have the discretion to grant leave, but they can only do so in exceptional circumstances. If a Headteacher authorises a leave request, it will be for them to determine the length of time that the child can be away from school. This leave is unlikely, however, to be granted for the purposes of a family holiday.

Parents can be fined for taking their child on holiday during term time without consent from the school.

What happens if your child is caught in a truancy sweep

A Truancy Sweep is a joint operation undertaken by the Police and Lancashire County Council.

Young people who appear to be of school age can be stopped by a uniformed Police Officer accompanied by a council officer in previously agreed public places at specified times.  These young people may be alone, with friends or accompanied by an adult.

Unaccompanied young people

The officers will make enquiries to establish whether the young person is out of school with or without authority and a decision will then be made as to whether to remove them to the agreed designated place.

The council officer will check the personal details provided. The young person will then be escorted back to school or be escorted home or will remain at the designated premises until collected.

Accompanied children/young people

No attempt will be made to separate a child from an accompanying adult, but enquires will be made as to the reason for the child’s absence from school. The council officer will then advise the adult as to whether the given cause of absence is justifiable.

Parentally condoned/justified absence is a significant problem for some schools and many of these children will have no good reason to be out of school.

Parents will be reminded that they are responsible for regular school attendance.

Report a child missing education 

The term missing education means a child who is not registered at a school (or an alternative arranged by the council), and who is not receiving a suitable education at home.

If you, either as a member of the public or as a fellow professional, are aware of a child or young person who you think may be missing education you can use our online form to notify our Children Missing Education Officers.