What is the EWS?
Every child matters
Education Welfare Service
The Education Welfare Service (EWS) acts on behalf of the local
authority in enforcing a parent's duty to ensure their child
receives an appropriate education; it also discharges the
authority's responsibility to monitor and issue child employment
and entertainment licences for school age children.
By law, all children of compulsory school age (between 5 and 16)
must receive an appropriate full-time education. Parents are
responsible for making this happen, either by registering the child
at school or by making other arrangements.
If a child is registered at school, parents have the primary
responsibility for ensuring that their child attends regularly.
Local authorities have a duty to ensure that parents fulfil this
responsibility. This duty is usually carried out by the EWS.
On average, 450,000 children are absent from school every day;
this includes around 50,000 unauthorised absences. The government
sees reducing absence from school as a priority because of the
strong link between attendance and attainment, and also because of
the links between truancy, street crime and anti-social
Promoting regular school attendance is a key component in the
government's strategy to raise educational standards.
Who is in it?
The EWS is made up of teams of education welfare officers
What do they do?
The EWS is probably the longest established welfare service in
Britain. Though enforcing school attendance is the main
responsibility of the EWS, in many instances they will also
undertake other important related duties. These include:
- Regulating child employment
- Advising on child protection issues
- Advising on children being educated otherwise than at
In enforcing attendance, EWOs have a variety of powers to help
them ensure that children are properly educated:
- School Attendance Orders
- Fast Track to Attendance
- Parenting Contracts
- Penalty Notices
- Education Supervision Orders
- Parenting Orders
However, EWOs work closely with schools and families to resolve
attendance issues. They support children and families when pupils
are experiencing difficulties in school or welfare issues are
disrupting their education.
EWOs will investigate the reasons behind school absence, and can
advise families about specialist support services and make
referrals to appropriate services. As well as addressing individual
problems, they also provide advice and support to schools on
promoting whole school attendance.
Schools have a named EWO who supports the school in addressing
attendance issues relating to its pupils. They develop close
relationships with the schools they support, and check school
registers regularly to ensure that they are being completed in
accordance with the school's policy and national regulations. They
also support schools to identify any patterns of absence that may
identify more significant issues.
How do you access the service?
The initial responsibility for identifying and resolving
attendance problems rests with schools. However, where they are
unable to improve a pupil's attendance they will refer the pupil to
the EWS. Schools are likely to refer a case to the EWS if:
- A pattern of irregular attendance is continuing or getting
- If parents are refusing to discuss with the school ways of
improving a child's attendance or will not accept their
responsibility for ensuring the child attends school
- If parents are asking for excessive amounts of authorised
If you are a concerned parent or have some questions about
school attendance, please contact your Education Welfare Area Officer.
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This page was last reviewed 1 May 2013 at 10:36.
The page is next due for review 28 October 2014.