Oxfordshire County Council is warning families and carers they must do all they can to support regular school attendance for their children.

It highlighted the Department of Education's advice that being around teachers and friends in a school or college environment is the best way for pupils to learn and reach their potential.

Time in school keeps children safe and provides access to extra-curricular opportunities, such as sports and other out of hours’ activities.

The higher a pupil’s attendance, the more they are likely to learn and achieve.

The council also emphasised that parents and guardians have a legal duty to ensure their child gets a full-time education.

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Usually, that means going into school from the age of five to 16. 

Councillor Liz Brighouse, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for children, education and youth services, said rates of school attendance need to improve.

She said: “Most children and young people are now looking forward to returning to school after the long summer break, but many will be anxious about the return.

"Too many children are not attending on a regular basis, and we know that every day of learning lost has an impact later.

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“Our schools are working hard to make every child feel included and for those that do feel anxious please talk to an adult at your school.

"I hope for the next academic year those who are looking forward to getting back to friends, the social life and learning join with those who feel anxious, to make school a great place for everyone.”

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Last year families in Oxfordshire were hit with more than 300 fines after their children missed school, according to Department for Education data.

It was one of just four local authorities in the whole country to see a rise in the number of fines issued.

Of the fines, 87 per cent were for unauthorised family holidays.

Penalty notices are £60 if paid within 21 days of being issued, but rise to £120 if paid between 22 and 28 days.

If the penalty is still outstanding, the council must either prosecute for the original offence or withdraw the notice.

Throughout the summer, councils have run various holiday activity programmes aimed at helping children build their confidence ready for the new school term.

Further information, with links to additional holiday activities and food programme providers, is available on Oxfordshire County Council’s website.

Weekly youth clubs also run during term time to help young people stay connected and supported.