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Missing School

Missing school

Students are required to be at school any time the school is open, however, sometimes students miss school for various reasons. If you miss school without permission – this is wagging, or legally known as being truant.

This section talks about when you can and can’t miss school, and what happens if you miss school.

When do I have to be at school?

If you’re enrolled at a school, you must go to school and remain there for the full school day unless your absence is justified.

There are three exceptions to not being required to attend a school. First, you can get permission from the Ministry of Education to be home-schooled if your parents can show you will be taught at least as regularly and as well as you would be in a school.  Secondly, if you’re enrolled in Correspondence school. And thirdly, if you’re 15 and the Ministry of Education has accepted your application for an “early leaving exemption” – this requires you, your school and the Ministry to believe that you will benefit more from leaving rather than staying at school.

When can I miss school?

Your parents can ask the principal for permission to keep you out of school for a particular reason, and if your principal thinks that you have a good reason to not attend school (temporarily), they may allow you to be away from school for a period of no more than five school days. Usually, going on a holiday early will not be a good enough reason.

You should find out what your school’s rules are around the types of absences that are okay, and how you ‘ask’ for permission to be absent (usually you need a written note from your parent or caregiver).

What kind of trouble can I get into if I don’t go to school?

If you don’t go to school and miss it without a good reason, Truancy Services, MCOT, the Ministry of Education and Police may become involved. The government can also take your parents to court if you aren’t enrolled or are missing school without good reason.

If you’re between 6 – 15 years-old, an attendance officer may ask you for your name, your address, your school’s name and the reason why you aren’t at school. If the attendance or police officer is not satisfied with your reason for being away from school, they can either take you home or to your school and report the matter to MCOT.

You may also be punished by your school for wagging classes.

Can I be punished by my school if I don’t go to school?

Yes, if you don’t have permission to be away from school, you can be punished for not being at school when you’re meant to be. This could include missing a day or days of school, missing certain classes, or even for being late.

The type of punishment you get will depend on your school, and how often and long you have been missing school. Generally, you might get a detention. The worst case could be that you are suspended and then kicked out of school after a Board meeting, or that you get taken off the school roll (if you have been away for more than 20 school days in a row).

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