QuickRead: School attendance

Read our 1-page summary of the rules on school absence, attendance and term-time holidays.

updated on 12 February 2024
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School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 33684

When are pupils allowed to miss school?

Pupils of compulsory school age (between the school term after their 5th birthday to the last Friday in June in the school year they turn 16) can be legally absent when they're mentally or physically unwell, or when the school has given permission in advance. 

A limited number of other types of absence are also counted as authorised – read our article on the legal requirements of school attendance for more information.

Headteachers are responsible for giving permission for absence, but should only give it in “exceptional circumstances”.

It’s up to the headteacher to decide what counts as an exceptional circumstance and how many days' absence is authorised. They should consider each request individually, taking into account the specific facts and circumstances. 

If pupils miss school illegally, each of their parents can be fined £60 If the fine isn't paid within 21 days, it rises to