What is Truancy?

If you take time off school for trivial reasons, with or without your parents’ knowledge, or if you are absent without the school’s permission, then this is called 'truancy' or 'playing truant'.

Who can I talk to about Truancy?

If you have any problems at school that are affecting your attendance then you should speak to your parents and to a teacher you trust, or seek advice from a trusted adult or advice line. Your school’s Education Welfare Officer will be happy to speak to you if you need help and advice.

What are the laws on Truancy?

If you are between 5 and 16 years old, the law says your parents must make sure you receive a suitable education. The school leaving age is rising to 18 in the next few years. Once you are on the register of a school, your parents are responsible, under law, for making sure that you attend the school regularly.

You should only be away from school if you are too ill to attend, or if the school has given permission for you to be away from school, for example, a field trip or school outing. It is your school’s head teacher and not your parents who decide if an absence is for a proper reason or not.

If you don’t attend school regularly, the school will follow up, but may also contact the Council’s Education Welfare Service. In this case an Education Welfare Officer will meet with you and your parents to find out what the problems are, and to see what help or support is needed to improve school attendance.

If parents don't co-operate with the Education Welfare Officer (sometimes called an Education Social Worker) the Council can fine or prosecute them in court. The police also have powers, in certain circumstances, to return young people to school if they are in a public place when they should be attending school.

Where can I find out more?

You can contact the Education Welfare Service for more information.