Attendance has a positive impact on student’s learning, helping them achieve steady progress and the skills and knowledge needed for success now and later in life.
DECYP appoints Authorised Persons under the Education Act 2016 to investigate unauthorised absences, or suspected unauthorised absences, of any school-aged child or youth with the objective of getting them back to school.
Authorised Persons existed under the previous Education Act; however, Authorised Persons now focus on identifying non-attendance issues and facilitating support for parents/guardians who want their child to attend school but may need some help to do this.
How will I know the person is an Authorised Person?
An Authorised Person must clearly identify themselves by showing their photo identification card signed by the Department for Education, Children and Young People Secretary.
Staff who are appointed as an Authorised Person are likely to be known by students. They will have been appointed because they have the skills needed for this role. For example, an Authorised Person may be a DECYP Social Worker who regularly works with students and families to help resolve the reasons why a school-aged child or youth isn’t at school.
Your child’s school’s Attendance Policy will set out how the school uses Authorised Persons and if any school staff are Authorised Persons.
Why have an Authorised Person?
Authorised Persons help schools collect information that they can use to determine if an unexplained absence of a student is an unauthorised absence.
Schools may use the information to identify where parents/guardians may need additional help to have a child or young person attend school.
What could an Authorised Person ask a parent/guardian?
An Authorised Person may investigate unexplained absences by:
- approaching the parent/guardian of a child or youth and showing their identification card
- requiring the parent/guardian to explain the reason that the child or youth is (or was) absent from school.
Other school staff, including Principals, School Business Managers and School Administrative staff, may also attempt to contact a parent/guardian (by telephone or in writing) advising of a student’s absence and seeking an explanation and evidence. For more information, see the page about Attendance.
What could an Authorised Person ask a child or youth?
Authorised Persons may approach and request information from a school-aged child or youth who appears not to be in attendance at a school during school hours.
An Authorised Person must show their identification card and may request the following information from a child or youth:
- their name, age and address
- the school they normally attend
- the reason for being absent from school.
The Authorised Person may request to accompany the child or youth to their school to verify the information they have provided.
If the child or youth will not return to school and the child or youth’s parent/guardian will be present at home, the Authorised Person may request to accompany the child or youth to their home to ensure they are safe.
An Authorised Person must follow policies relating to transport of a child or youth, including obtaining the parent/guardian’s permission.
What can’t an Authorised Person do?
An Authorised Person:
- cannot ask you anything until they show you their identification card
- cannot insist that a child, youth or their parent/guardian accompany them back to school or to their home
- does not have authority to restrain a child or youth
- cannot share information about a child or youth with people other than specific relevant Department for Education, Children and Young People staff and other organisations where there is formal consent to share information.
Where can I get more information?
If you want your child to attend school but need help to do this, your child’s school would really like to talk to you about what help you need.
Please contact your child’s school for more information.