Attending school is compulsory for all compulsory school age children – that is, children aged between 6 and 16 years [Education Act 1972 (SA) s 5]. Each child of compulsory school age is required to be enrolled and attend at a primary or secondary school.
Children of compulsory education age (i.e. 16 years of age) are required to remain in full time education until they turn 17 or gain a qualification [s 75(2)].
It is an offence for a child not to attend school without good reason (e.g. illness or other reasons that have been officially approved, see Education Regulations 2012 reg 68). Where a child fails to attend with good reason each parent is guilty of an offence [Education Act 1972 (SA) s 76(3)]. The maximum penalty for this offence is $500.
Any authorised officer (for example, a police officer or a school attendance officer) who sees a child of compulsory school or education age in a public place during normal school hours has the authority to stop and ask the child’s name, age and address and why they are absent from school [s 80]. In addition, a child of compulsory school age who is persistently absent from school without a satisfactory explanation is regarded as being ‘at risk’ for the purposes of the Children’s Protection Act 1993 (SA) [s 6(2)(d)].
Under section 78 of the Education Act 1972 (SA) it is an offence to employ a child of compulsory school or education age during school hours or during hours at which participation in an approved learning course is required. The maximum penalty for this offence is $5 000.
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