Section 444 of the Education Act 1996

Under section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996 (EA 1996), a parent commits an offence if they fail to ensure their child’s regular attendance at a school where the child is registered. Under section 444(1A) EA 1996, a parent commits a further offence where the circumstances in section 444(1) apply and the parent knows that the child fails to attend regularly at the school and fails to cause the child to attend.

However, this legislation sets out defences to these offences. In particular, section 444(6) EA 1996, gives parents a defence in which they cannot be found guilty of a school attendance offence, provided that the child is of no fixed abode and:

(a) parents are engaged in a trade or business of such a nature as to require them to travel from place to place, and

(b) the child has attended at a school as a registered pupil as regularly as the nature of that trade or business permits, and

(c) if the child has attained the age of six, that he or she has made at least 200 attendances during the period of 12 months ending with the date on which the proceedings were instituted.