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School Absenteeism Bill

This is the text of the School Absenteeism Bill, as presented to the House of Commons on 1 July 1997.

School Absenteeism Bill
1.School attendance.
2.School attendance orders: supplementary.
3.Short title and commencement.





Place duties upon schools, local education authorities and parents to identify promptly and act as necessary in cases of child absenteeism from school, to ensure attendance or attention to the absent child's needs; and for related purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

School attendance.     1. After section 437 of the Education Act 1996 ("the 1996 Act") there is inserted the following new sections-
"Duties of head teachers and others in respect of unauthorised absences from school.     437A. - (1) Where a registered pupil has been absent from school without authorisation for a complete school day the school shall without delay notify the parents.
    (2) Notifications under this section shall be made by the head teacher or by an education welfare officer whether in person, in writing or by telephone.
      (3) Head teachers shall keep a record of each notification so made and shall use that information in preparing and implementing targeted school attendance programmes.
      (4) Local education authorities shall collate the records of notifications made under this section by schools in their area with a view to considering whether to take action under this chapter.
School attendance orders made by a court on application of a head teacher.     437B. - (1) If it appears to a head teacher that a pupil registered at his school is not attending regularly he may apply to the court for a school attendance order.
      (2) If the parent of a child in respect of whom application under subsection (1) has been made fails to satisfy the court within ten days of the application being made that the child is receiving and will continue to receive satisfactory education the court shall make an order requiring him to ensure that the child attends the school at which he is a registered pupil.
      (3) An order made under this section may include a requirement on a parent to accompany his child to school."
School attendance orders: supplementary.     2. After section 448 of the 1996 Act there is inserted the following new sections-

Guidance issued by the Secretary of State.     448A. The Secretary of State shall issue to local education authorities guidance on-
    (a) the recording and notification of unauthorised absences;
    (b) the preparation and implementation of targeted school attendance programmes;
    (c) best practice on tackling unauthorised absences; and
    (d) the use of school attendance orders, education supervision orders and prosecutions.
Provision of advice and information in languages other than English.     448B. In dealing with cases of unauthorised absence, local education authorities and schools shall ensure that wherever practicable they communicate with parents in a language which the parents can understand and where such communication is not practicable then they and the courts shall make due allowance."
Short title and commencement.     3. - (1) This Act may be cited as the School Absenteeism Act 1998.
      (2) This Act extends to England and Wales only.
      (3) This Act shall come into force at the end of the period of three months beginning with the day on which it is passed.

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Prepared 6 March 1998