School Attendance & Absence

Every day at school really matters and helps children to get the best start to life.

Every child in Halton deserves to have the very best start in life and to grow up with opportunities to reach their full potential – good school attendance is one of the ways to make this happen.

The academic and social benefits of good school attendance help children throughout their childhood and later in life.

In the last few years the number of children missing days of school has increased and it is a priority in Halton, and in the rest of the country, to turn this around.

We can all work together to improve children’s school attendance.

Being on time matters too, as being late for school can be disruptive to children and their friends in class.

We want children to be in school every day, on time and ready to learn!

Every day at school: means better opportunities in the future

Good school attendance leads to better opportunities for children.

School isn’t just about education – it’s about making friends, enjoying new activities, building confidence and skills for future life

Being in school helps to keep children safe and well, as children with good school attendance are less likely to be involved in crime or anti-social behaviour

Good attendance habits start at a very young age – by encouraging this, you will be setting out values for their future success in life.

Every day at school: means never missing out

You may think that the odd day off school here and there won’t make a difference, but every day away from school really does add up:

  • 80% attendance over a school year means your child misses a whole year of education over five years
  • 85% attendance means that 29 school days, nearly six weeks, or 145 lessons are missed over a year
  • 90% attendance means 19 school days, four weeks or 95 lessons are missed over a year

How to support your child to go to school

If you or your child have any worries about them going to school, talk to your school straight away, as they want to help.

If your child is struggling to attend, or you are struggling to get your child to school, it’s really important to talk to school staff openly and honestly about the reasons.

You can speak to the class teacher, pastoral staff, SENCO or other members of staff, any of whom can make sure the right support is in place.

If your child is going to be late, it is still really important to go into school.

If your child has missed out on school work, help them to catch up if you can and speak to your school, as there are lots of resources available.

Getting your child to school

If you struggle getting your child to school, support is also available from the Education Welfare Service. You can contact the team by email

As a parent you are legally responsible for making sure that your child goes to school.  If they cannot go for any reason you should tell the school and they may authorise the absence.

We can offer support to children young people and their families to enable access and engagement with education by working in partnership with children young people, their families and schools to promote regular school attendance and participation. Each school has a named Education Welfare Office to request support or advice. Referrals can be made by parents, young people schools or any other agencies working with a family where school attendance has been identified as an issue. In the first instance school will contact you to discuss your child’s attendance and if there is no improvement will consider putting a plan or Parenting Contract in place to help support you and your child to improve attendance. This may include gaining your consent to refer to other agencies including Early Help for support.

If there is still no improvement in attendance schools can refer to the Education Welfare Service who can:

  • Write to you to invite you to an Attendance Planning Meeting
  • If there is still no improvement we may take legal action.

Education Penalty Notices and legal intervention for irregular school attendance

The Education Welfare Service, on behalf of Halton Borough Council, can use various legal powers if your child is missing school without a good reason. They can include:

  • a Parenting Order
  • an Education Supervision Order
  • a School Attendance Order
  • a Penalty Notice (a fine)

Parenting Order

This means you have to access parenting support, for example attending a nurture parenting intervention. You’ll also have to do what the court says to improve your child’s school attendance.

Education Supervision Order

An Education Supervision Order may be applied for if your child is not receiving an adequate education.  An Order includes tasks for all parties aimed to improve attendance – these are called directives.  The court will expect you to fully engage and co-operate with the tasks/support.

Education Supervision Orders can be breached – this means you can be taken back to court – if the Local Authority feels you are not fully engaging with the plan. This means that the Local Authority can apply for an extension or alternatively, you may be fined for failing to ensure your child’s regular school attendance.

A supervisor will be appointed to help you get your child into education. The local council can do this instead of prosecuting you, or as well.

School Attendance Order

A School Attendance Order will be considered if the local council do not have satisfactory evidence that your child is not getting a suitable, full time education.

You have 15 days to provide evidence that you’ve registered your child with the school listed in the order or you are educating them at home (known as Elective Home Education - home education).

If you do not comply with the Order you can be prosecuted and receive a fine. 

Penalty Notices (a Fine) in Respect of Leave of Absence

You can be issued with a Penalty Notice (a fine) if you take your child out of school without the permission of the Head Teacher.  You must apply to the Headteacher before taking your child out of school. 

If you are taking a child out of school for the purpose of a holiday you must get permission before booking the holiday.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you are aware of term time dates when you book a holiday.  Head teachers cannot authorise a leave of absence unless you provide information to demonstrate exceptional circumstances when you complete the application for the leave of absence.  They cannot retrospectively authorise a leave of absence.

If you are issued with a Penalty Notice please be aware that a Notice will be issued to each parent, for each child taken out of school without permission.

The Penalty Notice is £60, per parent, per child.  This fine must be paid within 21 days. If you do not pay the fine within 21 days, you will receive an increased Penalty Notice for £120, per parent, per child.  Fines that remain unpaid a further 7 days may result in you being prosecuted for your child’s absence from school.

There is no right of appeal if you are issued with a Penalty Notice.  Any queries or concerns must be directed to the school.

Please see the Penalty Notice Protocol for the rules on when you can be fined.

Penalty Notices (a Fine) in Respect of Irregular School Attendance 

You can also be issued with a Penalty Notice (a fine) following a Penalty Notice Warning, for irregular school attendance.  Penalty Notices are issued where you child has not attended for a specified period and there are absences which are not authorised by the school.

The Penalty Notice is £60, per parent, per child.  This fine must be paid within 21 days. If you do not pay the fine within 21 days, you will receive an increased Penalty Notice for £120, per parent, per child.  Fines that remain unpaid a further 7 days may result in you being prosecuted for your child’s absence from school.

There is no right of appeal if you are issued with a Penalty Notice.  Any queries or concerns must be directed the school.

Please see the Penalty Notice Protocol for the rules on when you can be fined.


Parents who are found guilty of an offence under section 444(1) of 1996 Education Act (failing to ensure that their child/children of compulsory school age attend school regularly) may receive a fine of up to £1000.

There is a further offence under section 444(1)(a) of 1996 Education Act (failing to ensure that their child/children of compulsory school age attend school regularly without reasonable justification).  

Parents who are found guilty of an offence under section 444(1)(a) of 1996 Education Act may receive a fine up to £2,500 and/or a community order.  Parents may receive a custodial sentence of up to 3 months. The court also may issue a Parenting Order.

Schools can request the involvement of the Education Welfare Service in cases where parents have failed to ensure that their child of compulsory school age) attends school regularly.

The Education Welfare Service work with schools to make sure all children missing education are found.

Children missing from education are children of compulsory school age who are not registered pupils at a school and are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at school.

Effective information sharing between parents, schools and local authorities is critical to ensuring that all children of compulsory school age are safe and receiving suitable education.

We have a legal duty to identify Children Missing from Education (CME) and to make sure they return to education wherever possible. Read the CME statutory guidance.

Refer a child

Children Missing from Education (CME) referral form can be completed by a school after a maximum 10 days’ absence through a secure email address: The Referral form can be found in Halton’s CME Guidance for Children and Young People.

Anyone with a concern that a child is missing from education can make a referral to the Education Welfare Service.

If you have submitted a CME referral form, please consult the Education Welfare Service before removing a pupil from the school register.

Targeted Termly Support Meetings with schools

All Halton Schools will receive a minimum of one Targeted Termly Support Meeting with their named EWO. This may be in person or via Teams. These meetings should be attended by both attendance and pastoral leads who should work together to address attendance concerns.

The purpose of the Targeted Termly Meetings is to work together with schools to review actions plans in place to support children who are severely absent or persistently absent and at risk of becoming severely absent. The EWO will advise on next steps in terms of actions and support from school, a referral to Early Help if not previously made and additional support from other agencies. Severely absent pupils can be discussed as part of a complex case review with the school named EWO at this meeting. An updated Plan will be agreed at the meeting and school will be required to complete any agreed actions and continue to monitor school attendance. At the following termly Targeted Support Meeting the Plans will be reviewed with school.

At the Targeted Termly Meeting the EWO will also look at the use of absence attendance codes to ensure they are used appropriately. Schools are required to provide access to their registers for this purpose. Advice will be given where appropriate.

The Targeted Termly Meetings will also provide the opportunity to discuss school attendance data and how this data is being used by school to identify cohorts of children at risk of poor attendance and appropriate targeted interventions school have put in place. Schools will be required to provide their attendance data for discussion at the meeting. The EWS will provide schools with Halton level data along with national and comparator data to help schools benchmark their data.

The meeting will also provide the opportunity to review the School Attendance Policy and identify case studies and best practice which can then be shared with other schools with agreement via a termly briefing or bulletin which will be produced by the EWS. Where common issues are identified this will help inform the agenda for meetings of school attendance leads and further training.

Where attendance does not improve and schools have concerns about a pupil they should consider a referral to one of the following multi-agency meetings for a case discussion.

Team around the School Meetings – These take place every Friday morning at a different school and are attended by mental health team, Educational Psychologist service, Education Welfare Service, Early Help, Education Services, schools, Children’s Social Care.

Working Together Meetings – If the case is open at a Multi Agency Plan and actions are not being achieved the case can be referred to the Working Together Meeting for further advice from professionals.

Enhanced EBSNA (Emotionally Based School Non Attenders) Panel – For children with mental health/ anxiety as barriers to attendance the school should follow the EBSNA pathway which follows a graduated approach to addressing attendance concerns and includes a referral to the school EP. Where school have followed the EBSNA pathway but attendance has failed to improve school should refer to this panel for further advice and consideration of a tuition offer if appropriate.

Most children’s educational needs are best met within an educational setting by school. Section 100 of the Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on governing bodies of maintained schools, proprietors of academies and management committees of Pupil Referral Units to make arrangements for supporting pupils at their school with medical conditions.

The DfE guidance states that in very exceptional circumstances there may be a need for a reduction in educational provision to meet a young person’s needs. If a child or young person is unable to access full-time education due to a diagnosed health need, schools and local authorities must follow the DfE guidance mentioned above and should refer to Halton’s Nirofte policy regarding reduced timetables for pupils of statutory school age found here. Schools are required to consult their EWO prior to any child being put on a reduced timetable for any reason and must notify the Education Welfare Service of any such children not in receipt of a full time education (NIROFTE) via the

A part-time timetable should not be used to manage a pupil’s behaviour.  A part-time timetable must only be in place for the shortest time necessary and not be treated as a long-term solution. Any pastoral support programme or other agreement should have a time limit by which point the pupil is expected to attend fulltime, either at school or alternative provision. There should also be formal arrangements in place for regularly reviewing it with the pupil and their parents. In agreeing to a part time timetable, a school has agreed to a pupil being absent from school for part of the week or day and therefore must treat absence as authorised.

The statutory guidance states that ‘where a child cannot attend school because of health problems, and would not otherwise receive a suitable full-time education, the LA is responsible for arranging provision.’ These regulations can be found in the government document: Education for children with health needs who cannot attend school, published by the DfE (January 2013). The Halton Tuition Service is an educational teaching service for children with medical needs, which sits within Children’s Services.  The Halton Tuition Service complements the teaching offer by Halton schools for pupils who are temporarily unable to attend their school, due to the impact of their medical condition.

The Halton Tuition Service responsibilities:

  • to have a named officer with responsibility for the provision of education for pupils unable to attend school due to medical needs. Debbie Houghton, Principal Education Welfare Officer
  • to provide educational support for pupils with documented medical needs unable to attend school for more than 15 school days or more, whether consecutive or cumulative.

The Halton Tuition Service complements the educational support provided by schools, in the core subjects (English, Maths and Science) and works together with the school to ensure access to the wider curriculum.

The DfE Guidance Working Together to improve School Attendance for maintained schools, academies, independent schools and LAs states:

All pupils of compulsory school age are entitled to a full-time education. In very exceptional circumstances, where it is in a pupil’s best interests, there may be a need for a temporary part-time timetable to meet their individual needs. For example, where a medical condition prevents a pupil from attending full-time education and a part-time timetable is considered as part of a re-integration package. A part-time timetable should not be used to manage a pupil’s behaviour. 44. A part-time timetable must only be in place for the shortest time necessary and not be treated as a long-term solution. Any pastoral support programme or other agreement should have a time limit by which point the pupil is expected to attend fulltime, either at school or alternative provision. There should also be formal arrangements in place for regularly reviewing it with the pupil and their parents. In agreeing to a parttime timetable, a school has agreed to a pupil being absent from school for part of the week or day and therefore must treat absence as authorised.

By a school agreeing to a part-time timetable, it has agreed that the pupil can be absent from school for part of the week/day, therefore must record this as authorised absence “C” code.

Elective Home Education

Elective home education is the term used by the Department for Education (DfE) to describe parents’ decisions to provide education for their child at home instead of sending them to school.  Throughout these guidelines, ’parents’ should be taken to include all those with parental responsibility, including guardians and carers.

Halton Elective Home Education Guidance

The local authority (LA) attempts to make contact with the parents of children who are being electively home educated. 

The role of the LA is to determine whether the parents are providing a suitable education for their child / children. 

Once parents have decided to remove their child from school roll they take full responsibility for any educational costs.

You can find the government guidance here 

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that: “the parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to

  1. a) his/her age, ability and aptitude
  2. b) any special educational needs he/she may have either by regular attendance at school or otherwise”

This means that the responsibility for children’s education rests with their parents. Once parents have decided to remove their child from school roll, they take full responsibility for ensuring an education is provided any educational costs.

Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children receive a suitable education. Where parents have chosen to home educate, we want them to have positive experiences. We believe this is best achieved where parents and local authorities have an understanding of each other’s rights and responsibilities and work together. 

School exclusion and the issues that cause them can be challenging and have complex causes. The Education Welfare Service provides settings, practitioners, school governors, parents and young people with specific advice and guidance around exclusions.

When head teachers suspend or permanently exclude a pupil they must, without delay, notify parents and a social worker (if they have one).  If a pupil is looked-after, the head teacher must notify the social worker and/or Virtual Headteacher, without delay. Notification should be in person or by telephone in the first instance to allow parents to ask any questions or raise concerns directly with the head teacher.

Following suspension or permanent exclusion, Head teachers must also provide parents with the following information in writing:

  • The reason(s) for the suspension or permanent exclusion;
  • The period of a suspension or, for a permanent exclusion, the fact that it is permanent;
  • The parents’ right to make representations about the suspension or permanent exclusion to the governing board (in line with the requirements set out in paragraphs 95 to 105) and how the pupil may be involved in this;
  • How any representations should be made; and
  • Where there is a legal requirement for the governing board to consider the suspension or permanent exclusion, that parents or a pupil if they are 18 years old have a right to attend a meeting, to be represented at that meeting (at their own expense) and to bring a friend.

Written notification of the information above (paragraph 63) can be provided by delivering it directly to the parents, leaving it at their usual or last known home address, or posting it to that address. Notices can be given electronically if the parents have given written agreement for this kind of notice to be sent in this way.

Parents and head teachers can also seek advice from:  

If your child has special educational needs or disability (SEND) you may wish to seek advice from:

Permanent Exclusions 

A permanent exclusion is when a pupil is no longer allowed to attend a school (unless the pupil is reinstated). The decision to exclude a pupil permanently should be a last resort and only be taken in response to a serious breach or persistent breaches of the school's behaviour policy and where allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others such as staff or pupils in the school.

For further information please refer to the Government Guidance on school exclusions ‘Suspension and Permanent Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England, including pupil movement Guidance for maintained schools, academies, and pupil referral units in England, Sept 2022’ .This guidance has been updated to be a companion piece to the Behaviour in Schools guidance, which provides advice to headteachers, trust leaders and school staff on implementing a behaviour policy which creates a school culture with high expectations of behaviour. Therefore, this guidance should only be necessary when strategies, practices and interventions set out within the Behaviour in Schools guidance have not been successful in improving a pupil’s behaviour or the use of more significant interventions or sanctions are required.

Get a licence to employ children part-time or out of school hours from the age of 13

Child Employment

No child under the age of 13 can be employed.

Young people may take on a job such as delivering newspapers or working in a shop on Saturdays, but there are laws and rules to be observed to ensure their education does not suffer and that they are safeguarded whilst at work.

When a child is considered to be employed

A child is employed if they assist in any trade or occupation carried out for profit. It does not matter whether the child is paid or not for the work done. This includes working for a parent or relative.

Download an application form

If a child is of school age and has a part time job, they need a Work Permit.

If the child is going to perform on stage, in television, film or commercials or to work in paid or professional sport or as a model, they will need a child performance licence. (see above)

Types of work children can't do

There are several restrictions on premises where children are not allowed to work, these include:

  • Work in a commercial kitchen
  • Be involved in the preparation of meat for sale
  • Work in the bar of licensed premises
  • Work in a factory
  • Be involved in the personal care of residents in a care or nursing home
  • An amusement arcade or on a fairground
  • A slaughterhouse
  • A Theatre, cinema or night-club (unless you hold a licence to perform)
  • Mobile food bar
  • Car washing station
  • Billiard Hall
  • Racecourse or track
  • Disco (unless you hold a licence to perform)

There are certain jobs that children cannot do:

  • Deliver milk
  • Sell or deliver cigarettes or alcohol
  • Collect money or canvas door to door
  • Drive or ride on a vehicle, including agricultural implements
  • Sell medicines
  • Be involved in gambling including the lottery
  • Sell anything on a street
  • Work using dangerous machinery or chemicals
  • Door step milk delivery
  • Collecting or sorting of rags, refuse or scrap metals
  • Taking bets
  • Catering in a commercial kitchen
  • Do any job which may cause you harm or injury

There are jobs that children can do with an appropriate licence:

  • Shop assistant
  • Newspaper delivery
  • Clerical assistant
  • Library assistant

This is not a complete list. If you have any doubt about the kind of employment you are offering a child please seek advice from Halton Borough Council. The person employing the child is required to apply for the work permit. If they do not they can be fined up to £1,000.


Babysitting is not considered employment. However, the Children’s Legal Centre and the NSPCC recommend that the minimum age of a babysitter should be 16 years of age.

Working hours

Young people cannot work:

  • During school hours
  • More than 12 hours in any school week
  • Before 7am or after 7pm
  • More than two hours on a school day. Either two hours after school or one hour before and one hour after school
  • More than two hours on a Sunday
  • More than five hours on Saturdays and holidays for 13 and 14 year olds or eight hours for 15 and 16 year olds
  • More than 25 hours per week in school holidays for 13 and 14 year olds or 35 hours for 15 and 16 year olds

All young people must have a one hour break after four hours and must have two consecutive weeks holiday from any employment during school holiday time. A child can be stopped from working if they do not:

  • Have a work permit
  • Do not attend school
  • Are late for school
  • School work suffers as a result of working
  • Health suffers as a result of working

To apply for a Work Permit you and the young person's parent or guardian must complete the application form and return it to 

Download Application Form »

Child entertainment and chaperone requirements
Children taking part in performances, photography and modelling must have a licence

All children (from birth to the end of the school year in which they turn 16 years old) need a licence to take part in a public performance. This includes:

  • Films or TV for broadcast.
  • Internet or video commercials.
  • Performances on licensed premises or to a paying audience.
  • Dancing and singing competitions.
  • Amateur productions.
  • Any performance that requires time off school.
  • Any performance where a child is being paid, including sporting events.

If the child has been in no more than three performances in the last six months, will not take time off school and will not be paid or filmed for broadcast the organisation can apply for an exemption.

If multiple children are involved in the performance, and they will not need time off school, the organisation may be able to apply for a Body of Person (BOPA) certificate if they meet the BOPA criteria below.

How to apply Performance licence

The child who requires the licence must live in Halton. The person responsible for the performance and the parent should both complete and sign an application form:

Download a Child Performance application form »

You will also need to provide:

  • proof of the child's date of birth, eg a copy of the birth certificate
  • a photograph of the child taken within the last 6 months (a digital image is acceptable)
  • a copy of the contract (if issued)
  • a letter giving permission for absence from school (if applicable)
  • a copy the company’s safeguarding policy
  • any necessary risk assessments

Completed forms and accompanying information should be emailed to 21 days prior to the performance. Halton Borough Council will issue a licence if they are satisfied that the child is fit to take part in a performance, that their education will not suffer and that appropriate safeguarding measures are in place.

Body of Persons Approval

In certain circumstances Halton Borough Council may consider issuing a Body of Persons Approval to an organisation for a performance involving multiple children at a venue within the Halton Borough. A BOPA may be appropriate providing no payment is being made to the child (or to anyone else), the child will not be absent from school to take part and the performance is taking place within Halton. One application form can be completed for all children taking part, regardless of their home authority, and must be submitted at least 21 days before the performance.

Download a BOP application form »

The completed form can be emailed to:

An approval will only be granted providing the above criteria are met and the council is satisfied the organisation has clear and robust measures in place for safeguarding the children.


In certain circumstances an exemption from the licensing process may be possible. Where a child has not performed on more than four days in the last 6 months (including this performance), is not being paid and there is no absence from school, the performance may be exempt.

If this is the case you should notify Halton Borough Council and the person responsible for the production should complete the following form and email it at least 21 days before the performance takes place to

Information for parents

As a parent, you will receive a copy of the licence. Please read it carefully. The licence is a legal document and any conditions that have been applied must be adhered to. For TV programmes, commercials, films, sound recordings or theatre productions the licence is issued for the part the child is playing.

If the part is in a long running TV drama series the licence will be issued for a six month period. It will be a condition that the licence holder provides written advance notice to the council of any filming engagements your child has during this period. A licence issued for TV work will state how many days absence the head teacher may be willing to grant for filming work. You will need to contact the school to request absence in advance of each filming engagement.

For modelling, a licence will be issued for a single shoot on a specified date at a named location. A licence can also be issued for a six month period, where several modelling shoots will take place, provided they are all for the same organisation. It will be a condition that the licence holder provides written advance notice to the council of any modelling engagements your child has during this period.

A child must be chaperoned by their own parent/guardian or by a chaperone approved by a local authority.

Useful information

Download Exemption application form »

National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE)

NNCEE guidance

When a child takes part in a performance which can include TV, filming, theatre or modelling they must be chaperoned by their own parent, a legal guardian (appointed as such by the courts) or an approved chaperone.

A parent may only chaperone their own child. No one else may look after your child if you are named on your child's licence as chaperone. A grandparent or other family member (unless they have parental responsibility) cannot undertake this role on your behalf, unless they are an approved chaperone.

A chaperone acts in "loco parentis" and should exercise the care, which a good parent would be reasonably expected to give that child. The maximum number of children a chaperone can look after at any one time is 6.

However, this will need to be assessed on a case by case basis as age and gender need to be taken into account along with the limitations of the venue. Chaperone applications will only be considered if you are a resident of Halton.

To apply to become an approved chaperone please complete an application form and return by post or email. 

Download Chaperone application form »


Post: Principal Education Welfare Officer, 2nd Floor Rutland House, Halton Lea, Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 2ES

The duties and responsibilities of a chaperone

  • A chaperones' first priority is always to the child
  • A chaperone is the key person who the child looks to for guidance, protection, clarification and support
  • A chaperone's duty is to look after the child therefore they cannot be involved in other activities such as dresser, make up or actor
  • A chaperone must be strong enough to negotiate on behalf of the child. For example if a producer wants a child to remain at the place of performance beyond the permitted hours or to perform outside of that stated on the licence the chaperone must be confident enough to say no
  • A chaperone must have a working knowledge of the performance regulations to carry out their duties confidently and effectively
  • Production companies are required by law to keep certain records relating to the performance e.g. arrival and departure times, rest times etc. This duty often falls to the chaperone
  • A chaperone must ensure that all children are handed over to their parent/carer at the end of the performance. No child must ever be allowed to go home alone.

A child's performance licence will tell you what the child is allowed to do, you should ask the producer for a copy of the child's licence and familiarise yourself with the terms of the licence.

If a child is unwell and they cannot perform, as a chaperone you have the right to stop them from performing until you are satisfied they are well enough to continue. Chaperones should contact the parent or named contact on the emergency contact register and ask them to collect the child if they are unwell.

If you have suspicions that a child is being neglected or abused or if a child makes a disclosure of that nature you must immediately inform the designated person for child protection or contact Children's Social Care.

Employer's responsibilities

You must ensure that relevant insurance cover is provided.

You must undertake a comprehensive risk assessment of the work involved and make the findings known to the parent/guardian. Employers must provide appropriate PPE in line with the risk assessment outcomes. You must ensure that suitable clothing and footwear are worn by the young person.