Each school's handbook emphasises the positive development of good discipline and the value of school rules.
Section 30 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, lays a duty on every parent of a school-age child to "provide efficient education for him/her suitable to his/her age, ability and aptitude, either by causing him/her to attend a public (local authority) school, or by other means". Most parents choose to meet this duty by enrolling their children at local authority schools and therefore must ensure that their children attend school regularly. Attendance must be recorded by the school twice a day, morning and afternoon.
If a parent chooses to educate his/her child by other means than sending that child to school, the parent is still under a duty to ensure that the child is being provided with efficient education. Under Section 37 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, the parent has a duty to ensure that a child educated outside school is provided with an education suited to age, ability and aptitude and at a satisfactory level.
Regulation 7 of The Education (School and Placing Information) (Scotland) Amendment, Etc Regulations 1993 requires each child’s absence from school to be recorded in the school register as authorised, that is approved by the authority, or unauthorised, that is unexplained by the parent (truancy) or temporarily excluded from school.
Parents must contact the school by 9.15am on the first day of absence, explaining the reason for non-attendance. It is important that the school is notified, to prevent unnecessary procedures being followed. In extreme circumstances, there may be a need to involve social services or police. The parent should provide a written note on the child’s return to school, confirming the reason for absence.
Due to the avoidable disruption to children's education caused by family holidays in term time, the Scottish Executive issued a circular on attendance and absence in 2003. This national circular makes it clear that without the prior agreement of the school, family holidays will be classified as unauthorised absence. Schools will only give such agreement in exceptional circumstances related to the wellbeing of the family. Within the terms of the national circular, reasons which are not acceptable include:
- availability of cheap holidays or desired accommodation
- poor weather in school holidays
- holidays overlapping the end of term
- parental difficulty in obtaining leave (except in specific circumstances)
We seek your fullest co-operation in communicating to all young people the value of their time at school, by ensuring that no learning and teaching is lost through unnecessary and avoidable absence. Parents may request their children be permitted absence from school to make an extended visit to relatives. Only written requests detailing the destination, the duration and the provision that will be made for their continuing education will be granted. The pupil will then be noted as an authorised absentee in the register. With no explanation from the parent, the absence is unauthorised.
Some pupils do not come to school regularly, for a range of reasons. Parents and carers are obliged by law to do everything that they can to ensure that their children attend school.
In extreme cases, truancy from school can lead to prosecution.
More information on school attendance and the law
Procedures for dealing with indiscipline are set out in each school's handbook, which also includes a summary of the school’s discipline/behaviour policy. We always emphasise the need for parental co-operation to promote positive behaviour.