How Many Unauthorised Absences Are Allowed from School in the UK?

How many unauthorised absences are allowed from school uk

Even though teachers frequently strive to instruct us on how to be the “perfect student,” it can be difficult to avoid taking a few absences occasionally. 

Most of the time, students miss school due to illness or unfortunate life situations. However, your school occasionally won’t accept an excuse for your absence. 

These are unauthorised absences, and the school system records them. How many of these absences are you truly permitted to take?

If you don’t yet have a complete understanding of unauthorised, authorised, and repeated absences from school in the UK, don’t worry; this article will fill you in.

Unauthorised vs. Authorised Absence at School

At schools in the UK, there are two categories of absences.

If the school determines the grounds for the absence to be unwarranted or unsatisfactory, the absence is termed unauthorised. For instance, if you skipped class to take a vacation (which might have been prevented or done at another time).

An absence that has been approved by the school is one for which the justifications have been accepted. This indicates that the school considers the student’s absence to be in both the student’s and the school’s best interests.

Only unauthorised absences will be logged by the school in their system, even if both sorts of absences have an impact on your overall attendance.

You can only be penalized for unapproved absences, as we shall explain later in the text.

Please continue reading for more information as we go over what constitutes an allowed absence and what does not in the following two parts.

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What is an Authorised Absence at School?

You must speak with your headmaster and follow the instructions they provide you (which are particular to the school you attend) to obtain absence authorization. This typically requires parental or guardian involvement and is at the headteacher’s discretion.

Even if you follow this method, your absence may still not be excused. You can be requested to give documentation during the process like a doctor’s certificate for a prolonged illness leave or medical leave of absence.

Even though authorised absences are still recorded by the school and have an impact on your attendance, they do not have the same negative effects as unauthorised absences. For reasons of safety, schools must keep a register of absences.

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What is an Unauthorised Absence at School?

Your school’s policy determines what constitutes an unauthorised absence. However, there are a few common occurrences that will typically qualify as an unauthorised absence. These consist of:

  • Failure to notify the school of an absence (these absences may be excused provided the parent submits what the school believes to be a legitimate explanation for absence)
  • vacationing during a semester
  • excursions or leisure activities
  • Minor diseases or conditions (such as hay fever or a brief cold. These are typically seen as unapproved because you might be able to get aid for them at school.)

Basically, if you want to avoid unapproved absences, use some common sense and consider whether the school would be displeased if you missed a day for that reason. Obviously, the school should approve your absence if you are genuinely ill or going through a life-changing event.

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How Many Unauthorised Absences are Allowed at School Before a Fine?

Under UK law, there is no cap on the number of unauthorised absences that are “allowed” in schools. There is a cap on unauthorised absences before parents are penalized to discourage them as much as feasible.

However, the school is required to notify the local educational authority (i.e., the local council) of persistent absence (PA) after approximately 5 days or 10 sessions (a session is half of a school day, so either the morning or the afternoon of a complete school day) of unauthorised absence.

Ten sessions spread across the entire year are sufficient; they do not need to be consecutive. Individual situations will be taken under consideration for more or less time depending on how many sessions have passed.

Parents will face consequences if a chronic absence has been recorded, which we’ll cover later in the article.

Although the law does not specify the amount of absences, local authorities may set their own goals or impose restrictions on what is permitted in their jurisdiction.

For instance, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council stipulates that 10 instances of unapproved absence qualify for a punishment. Visit the East Riding of Yorkshire Council website to discover this.

This will vary depending on the local council of your school. It will vary for each local council. So it’s a good idea to visit the UK school’s website and find out how many unauthorised absences or sessions are allowed before you risk a fine.

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What is the Minimum Attendance Allowed for School?

Every school is required by law to keep attendance records for each session, and they use these records to keep track of students who miss classes. Persistent absence is indicated by a lower than 90% attendance rate.

As a result, anything beyond 90% is above the required level of attendance, but most institutions encourage students to aim for 95% or above.

Even if your attendance is 91–92%, as long as your absences are authorised, you should be fine. Authorised absences still have an impact on your school attendance, but they are regarded far less negatively than unauthorised absences. Visit this link on the government website for further details regarding prolonged absence.

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What are the Penalties for Unauthorised Absences at School?

Now that you know the number of unauthorised absences allowed in schools in UK, let’s discuss the penalties for missing school.

According to the government website, students who miss school frequently may be prosecuted. Before prosecution, they did not require your local council to impose any additional sanctions, but if they do, they could choose from the list below:

  • Parenting classes and any other requirements set forth by the court are required of the parents of an absent student under a Parenting Order. A Parenting Order, which tries to direct parents toward supporting their child’s attendance at school, may be given instead of or in addition to prosecution. Visit the Sentencing Council website to learn more about a Parenting Order.
  • An educational supervision order (ESO), which appoints a supervisor to assist you in enrolling your child in school, may be given to you if the council determines that you need assistance enrolling your child in school but aren’t cooperating. There is more information about an ESO on this page of the Surrey Council website.
  • School Attendance Order – If the Family Court issues a School Attendance Order (SAO), the parents have 15 days to show that their children are enrolled in the school specified in the order or that they are being educated at home. You risk being charged or fined if no proof is offered. On this page of the government website, you can read about SAOs.

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Other Penalties for Unauthorised Absences at School in the UK

  • If you miss school, your local council may punish you with £60 per parent, per day, and per child. If the fine is not paid in full within 21 days, it increases to £120. Your family could face legal action for not paying after 28 days.
  • Prosecution: In some circumstances, the court may impose fines on families of up to £2500, a community service requirement, or a 3-month jail term. Although they are a severe last resort, these penalties are still very much a possibility. You are also given a parenting order by these sentences, as was already explained.

This page of the government website has information on each of these fines. The government website offers a search engine that is provided for you here so that you can get education and attendance data directly from your council.

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Why is School Attendance so Important?

Good attendance in school is important for academic achievement. Attending classes improves your knowledge of the subjects being taught, which boosts your grades. This is because teaching enables you to fill up knowledge gaps and offer exam guidance.

Socially, education is also quite significant. Consistent absence at any time of the year causes friendships to suffer and causes you to miss out on significant social occasions. Of course, socialization has a big impact on human development and greatly benefits mental health, even though it is not the main purpose for going to school.

If students aren’t there to ask for and demonstrate aid, it can be very difficult to protect their well-being at school. Attendance is crucial for protecting pupils because, regrettably, some students use school as a way to get away from problems they may encounter at home.

Feeling unsafe at home is not normal, and there are people at school who can assist you if you exhibit risky behavior there. Additionally, Childline can be reached at 0800 1111. Visit the Childline website for further details.

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What are the Reasons Why You May Be Missing School and How to Help?

Every student occasionally has bad days, whether they enjoy school or detest it, and that’s quite natural. It’s crucial, nevertheless, that your education is unaffected by frequent absences.

Students frequently feel like they need to “escape” from school due to anxiety. This could be general anxiousness or worry about their future, friends, or grades. As a parent, it’s crucial to engage your child in conversation and listen to what they have to say rather than ignoring or dismissing it.

Unfortunately, students often miss school because of bullying. To help your parents understand your position better if you or someone you know is being bullied, you could speak with a school official and try to talk to them.

Bullying is never acceptable, and you should always feel secure at school.

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FAQs – How Many Unauthorised Absences are Allowed from School UK

What is the UK’s requirement for school attendance?

While schools are expected to set their own attendance goals, the government does not. A 95% attendance record is generally regarded as good; this permits students to miss 9.5 days over the academic year. An attendance rate of less than 90% is referred to as persistent absence (PA).

What occurs if you skip too many school days in the UK?

Starting at £60, school absence fines increase to £120 if payment is not received within 21 days. While some councils fine parents for each child, some impose this fine per child. A fine of up to £2,500 could be imposed on you if you are charged with a crime and appear in court due to your child’s absence from school.

What does UK unauthorised absence mean?

When someone skips work without permission from their employer, they are taking an unauthorised absence. violates the organization’s rules for reporting an unexpected absence, such as when a worker is unwell but fails to inform their employer.

What is the requirement for attendance for foreign students in the UK?

The Department may permit absences lasting up to 14 days. Any absence between 15 and 60 days requires authorization from the Department and the Visa Compliance Team. A student may not miss more than 60 days of class in a single academic year.

What Takes Place If You Miss Work Without Authorization?

Your employer will get in touch with you and inquire about the nature of your absence. Nothing will happen if the reason is valid. If it isn’t, you’ll likely receive a verbal warning and perhaps even start a disciplinary procedure.


Although this may differ from council to council, a school will usually intervene and tell the local council after 5 full school days, or 10 sessions, of unapproved absence.

The municipal council will decide on the punishment for this. Similar to prolonged absence, which is likewise punishable, attendance below 90% is recorded.

The maximum number of allowed unauthorised absences a kid can have before the school and local council get involved is nine sessions.



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