Statutory guidance

School behaviour and attendance: parental responsibility measures

Statutory guidance for schools, local authorities and the police on dealing with poor attendance and behaviour in schools.



For schools, please read temporary additional guidance about how you should record attendance during the coronavirus outbreak.

Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, we have disapplied certain statutory provisions so that the parent of a child of compulsory school age is not guilty of an offence on account of the child’s failure to attend regularly at the school at which the child is registered (section 444 of the Education Act 1996). This means that parents will not be penalised if their child does not attend school.

You can also read the guidance for the full opening of schools which provides information on attendance expectations for the coming autumn term.

This statutory guidance is for:

  • headteachers
  • school staff
  • governing bodies
  • local authorities
  • the police (for penalty notices)

It applies to:

  • local-authority-maintained schools
  • academies and free schools
  • pupil referral units (providing education for children who cannot go to a mainstream school)

The guidance provides information on dealing with poor attendance and behaviour in school using:

  • parenting contracts
  • parenting orders
  • penalty notices

These are measures to deal with anti-social behaviour by children and young people.

Statutory guidance is issued by law. You must follow it unless there is a good reason not to.

Published 13 November 2013
Last updated 29 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance.

  2. Updated to reflect changes made under the Coronavirus Act 2020 concerning school attendance and parental responsibility measures.

  3. Reviewed guidance and confirmed it’s up to date. Updated review date.

  4. First published.