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Legal responsibilities for parents

A parent’s legal responsibilities

As a parent, you must make sure your child goes to school every day. This is your legal responsibility.

  • Your child must go to school all day and every day that it is open. This is unless there is an explanation. For example, if your child is sick.
  • Your child must be enrolled and going to school by the age of 6. 
  • Your child must go to school until they are 17 years old. 
  • If your child wants to leave before they are 17 for another program or employment, there are certain requirements that must be met. These must be approved by the department.
  • Parents can be prosecuted if they do not make sure their child goes to school. This means being fined or getting a criminal conviction.

For more information, see compulsory school attendance.

The school’s legal responsibilities

If your child is going to be away, schools prefer that you let them know on that day.  

Our staff have a legal responsibility to follow up when a child misses school. 

They will contact you if:

  • your child is absent and you have not notified them 
  • they are concerned about the number of days missed in a term. 

If your child misses school 

Away without letting the school know

If your child is away and the school has not heard from you, they will contact you. They might:

  • send you an SMS or email
  • call you.

Often missing school

If a school has concerns about how often your child misses school, they might contact you. This will be to see if they can help. They might:

  • send you a letter or call you
  • invite you to a meeting
  • visit you at home 
  • organise support for you from one of the department’s social workers.

If you notice someone else’s child missing school

If you're worried about a child not going to school, contact their school. If you do not know the school, contact the department at education.attendance [at] sa.gov.au

    Engagement and Wellbeing — Attendance

    Speak with someone at the school or preschool for more information.
    Search for a school or preschool by name.
    Emaileducation.attendance [at] sa.gov.au