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St Francis of Assisi PS, Balgriffin, Dublin 13

School Attendance

Under the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 parents are responsible for making sure their child receives an education. The law also says that every child between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend school or otherwise receive an education.  

The majority of children in Ireland start school at either 4 or 5 years of age. Your child must be at least 4 years of age at the start of the school year (September) to enrol in primary school.  

What should I do if my child cannot go to school? 

You must tell the school that your child cannot attend and say why. This is completed through Aladdin. Keep in regular contact with the school to explain why your child is absent and, where appropriate, provide medical certificates. 

What will the school do if my child misses a lot of school? 

The school must tell the statutory Educational Welfare Services of the Child and Family Agency if your child has missed 20 days or more in the school year, or if it is concerned that your child is missing too much school. 

What must the Child and Family Agency do if your child misses a lot of school? 

If a school tells the Child and Family Agency that your child is missing too much school, an Educational Welfare Officer (EWO) will work with the school and may visit you to see how we can help to make sure that your child attends school more often. 

Can I take my child on holidays during term time? 

Taking a holiday during term time means that children miss important school time. It will be difficult for them to catch up on work. As a result, they may fall behind with school work and lose confidence in their abilities. It strongly advised that parents do not take their children out of school for holidays during term time. 

Can I be taken to court if my child does not attend school? 

If you are a parent or guardian of a child aged between 6 and 16 you have a central role to play in ensuring that your child does not miss out on their education. Under Irish law you must ensure that your child attends school or otherwise receives an education. 

The Child and Family Agency will help parents in whatever way they can to ensure your child gets an education. However, parents who refuse to co-operate with the EWO regarding their child’s school attendance (or fail to register with the Educational Welfare Services of the Child and Family Agency if they are being home educated or in receipt of an education in a ‘non-recognised school) can be taken to court and fined or imprisoned. Legal action of this kind only takes place in exceptional circumstances. 

Further Information 

‘Don’t let your Child miss out’ parent leaflet