Home Page Council News Room Site Map Ask a question Website - information and help Listening and Learning: Compliments, comments and complaints Access Keys

Education welfare

Is your child at school today?

Many pupils go to school every day and enjoy it. Some children may experience difficulties in attending school for many reasons. A parent or carer may not be aware that this is happening.


Cornwall Council recognises that regular school attendance is essential. Children need to enjoy their time in school and make the most of the opportunities available to them.

If a pupil misses one day a week for their entire school career they would lose the equivalent of two school years. The time missed at school can lead to gaps in knowledge that become difficult to fill.

The Education Welfare Service is aiming to reduce truanting within Cornwall through anti-truancy schemes operating in certain areas in the county. This is a joint initiative between the Council and Devon and Cornwall Constabulary. Through this initiative the police will have the power to take truants back to school.

The Education Welfare Service can also offer support and help to pupils, parents, carers and schools who may be having problems with attendance.

Remember, if your child is not in school

  • they may be putting themselves or others at risk
  • they are missing ou on educational opportunities
  • parents and carers can be fined up to £2,500

What can you do to help?

  • Make sure your child arrives at school on time
  • Be aware of the schools rules and routines
  • If your child is ill contact the school on the first day they are ill.  When the pupil returns to school send an explanatory note of absence.
  • Ask the schools permission in advance if you wish your child to miss school for an exceptional reason.  These are:
    • Approved parental holiday
    • A day of religious observance
  • Above all, show interest in your child’s school work and maintain contact with your child’s school.

Unacceptable reasons for absence:

  • Shopping
  • Birthday trips and treats
  • Non urgent medical and dental appointments.

Holidays in term time

Holidays during term-time should not be taken. Only Headteachers have the discretion to grant leave during term-time, but they should only do so in exceptional circumstances. If a headteacher grants a leave request, it will be for them to determine the length of time that the child can be away from school. Parents have no right to demand that absences are authorised, but should discuss any plans for leave in term-time with the school.  Further information is available on the Department for Education website.

Potential consequences of non-school attendance

If your child does not attend school regularly then the Local Authority may consider one of the following:

In Court the Magistrates will hear the case and decide whether a conviction is appropriate. Magistrates are able to

  • Fine each parent up to £1000 under Section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996
  • Fine each parent up to £2500 under Section 444(1a) of the Education Act 1996
  • Direct the Local Authority to reconsider applying for an Education Supervision Order
  • Impose a parenting order under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. This is designed to support parents in developing their skills in order to prevent a further offence being committed.
  • Give a conditional discharge for a period of time. This means that if the parent is convicted of a further offence during this time period, the Court will take the conditional discharge into account.
  • Give an absolute discharge

How can the Education Welfare Service help? 

Each school in Cornwall now has to buy-in a service from Education Welfare.

Please check with your local office to find out if your child’s school has an assigned Education Welfare Officer (EWO). The EWO can provide help and advice on: 

What the Law saysThe 1996 Education Act makes it very clear that parents must ensure that their child of school age receives regular full-time education. For most parents this is in school. Where children are registered in school they must attend. Only the school can authorise a child’s absence. If a child is not registered or does not attend Cornwall Council may take legal action against the parents or carers where appropriate.

Devon and Cornwall Police involvement

Patrolling officers may speak to children who are truanting from school. In addition, Section 16 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 empowers the police to remove truants from a public place and return them back to school; the police can only remove those children who are of compulsory school age.

If you are worried about your child’s attendance try talking to your child’s school first.  If you feel unable to do this or you would like further help please contact the Education Welfare Service.

The Education Welfare Service can be contacted at several offices across the county.

Education, Health and Social Care

0300 1234 101