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Advice for parents in Scotland

My child is absent from school a lot

If your child isn’t able to attend school it’s important that you tell the school as soon as possible. Children and young people who learn in school must attend regularly, and shouldn’t miss school without a reasonable excuse.

If your child is absent a lot without good reason your local authority would have to take action. They could refer you and your child to the Children’s Reporter, make an attendance order, or, as a last resort, take you to court.

Some children can’t always attend school regularly. For example, because they are ill, are caring for a family member at home, are a young parent, or have a school phobia. These children have the same right to an education as other children and the school should support them to attend whenever they can and to access their learning when they are not able to.

If your child attends an independent school, they will have their own policies and procedures for managing school attendance and absences which you should be able to find in the school handbook.

If you are keeping your child off school because you do not think the school is, or can, support your child adequately, arrange to speak to the head teacher immediately to discuss your concerns. You should put your concerns in writing to the school. It can be helpful to have a written record that you have raised your concerns, particularly if you decide to take your concerns further. If you feel that the school is no longer suitable for your child, you may want to think about making a placing request to another school.

If you have spoken to the school and are still unhappy, you can talk to the Additional Support for Learning Officer at the local authority or council to explain why your child is off school and share your concerns. There are other formal routes to resolving disagreements with your school which can help resolve any issues and ensure you feel happy about sending your child back to school.

You can:

- speak to the school if your child is struggling to attend school for any reason
- tell the school of any issues that are happening at home that might affect a child's attendance at school. They might be able to help you.
- Send a letter or email to the school explaining your worries.

Possible conversation starters

- Things are difficult at home at the moment and I think it’s making school hard for my child.
- What’s the best way to keep you up to date with what’s going on at home?
- I'd like to talk to you about the support my child has, as I am very worried about their wellbeing/safety/ anxiety when they are in school.
- Can we work together to get my child back to school with the right support?
- I’ve raised concerns in the past but don’t feel they have been listened to, so I will be putting them in writing to the local authority.
- I would like to discuss whether this school is still suitable for my child.

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When a child can’t go to school

This factsheet explains children and young people’s rights to education and support while they are absent from school because of ill health or unable to attend school for other reasons.

Resources/Advice for Young People/

Reach is our website offering pupils advice and information about getting the right support in school.

Go to the REACH website