School attendance: legal requirements

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

Last reviewed on 29 November 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 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 

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

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 on pages 12, 45 and 55 of the Department for Education's (DfE's) guidance on working together to improve school attendance.

Information required in the admission register 

Your school’s admission register must contain:

It must also be updated when a pupil moves