School attendance: legal requirements

Understand the rules on pupil absence, including your school's admission register and attendance register. We summarise the laws you'll need to know about, and also look at parent penalties and authorised absence.

Last reviewed on 6 March 2024See updates
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 3472
  1. Admission and attendance registers
  2. Permitted absence
  3. Penalties for parents
  4. Term-time leave
  5. Granting a leave of absence
  6. Role of governors

Admission and attendance registers

All schools are required by law to have:

  • An admission register and
  • An attendance register, which must be kept electronically

Note: schools where all pupils are boarders don't need an attendance register. 

The new statutory attendance guidance includes a requirement for your school to share its daily attendance data (paragraph 51).

All pupils must be placed on both registers from the beginning of the pupil's first day of attendance, regardless of their age.

School proprietors who don't comply with these regulations are guilty of an offence and can be fined.

This is set out in the attendance guidance (paragraphs 31, 205 and 280).

Information required in the admission register 

The personal details of all pupils in your school Pupils' dates of admission or readmission  Details of parents/carers  Details of the last school a pupil attended, if any  For boarding schools – whether the pupil is a boarder or

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