What can happen if my child is truant from school?

What can happen if my child is truant from school?

As a parent, you are legally responsible for ensuring that your child receives a full-time education.

If your child fails to attend school on a regular basis, you will ultimately be held liable. This will be the case even if your child is truanting without your knowledge.

Your child will not be excluded from school if they have been truanting. However, a school may wish to exclude your child if they have been truanting and their behaviour has been unacceptable.


Education Welfare Officer

Once your child’s school is aware of your child’s truanting, an Education Welfare Officer (EWO) will make contact with you.

The EWO will collaborate with you and the school in order to get to the bottom of any problems your child might be experiencing at school that may have caused them to truant.

In addition, the EWO will work with you and your child to develop a plan to help get them to school on time daily and keep them there. The plan could include, for instance:

  • Setting attendance targets
  • You taking your child to school
  • Helping your child if they have problems with one of their teachers
  • Taking the attendance register at every lesson.


If, despite these efforts, your child continues to truant, you could find be prosecuted.

If the education authority brings legal action against you, it bears the burden of proving that you knew your child was not attending school. If you are unable to demonstrate that you have been trying to make your child attend school, you could be subject to one or more of the following.

Parenting Order – If a Parenting Order is made against you, this will mean that you have to attend parenting classes. You will also be required to do whatever the court says is necessary in the circumstances to improve your child’s school attendance.

Education Supervision Order – If the council believes that you need additional support getting your child to attend school but you are not cooperating, they can make an application to the court for an Education Supervision Order.

A supervisor will be duly appointed to help you get your child into education. Your local council will do this rather than prosecuting you or in addition to prosecuting you.

School Attendance Order – If your local council is of the opinion that your child is not getting an education, you will get a School Attendance Order.

Under the terms of the Order, you will have 15 days to furnish evidence that you have registered your child with a school or that you are providing them with home schooling.

The Order will also necessitate that you send your child to a certain school. If you do not, you may be prosecuted.

Penalty notice – You can be issued with a penalty notice rather than being prosecuted.

The penalty is £60, rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days. If you fail to pay the fine, you may be prosecuted.

Prosecution – You could be fined up to £2,500, receive a community order or a term of imprisonment of up to three months. The court will also give you a Parenting Order.

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