Parents who take their children on holiday or allow them to be absent for no good reason during term-time will face fines, the government has said.
The Conservative administration claimed it would end a “postcode lottery” over how councils tackle school absences where parents were fined in some areas and not others.
In a consultation published on Friday, the government proposed registers of pupils are kept electronically, with the education secretary given central access to national register data, while local councils could access all attendance data for schools in their area.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “I know from the Children’s Commissioner’s work on school attendance that children themselves hugely value being in school with their teachers and their friends.
“My job is to make sure that every child can get those school experiences.
“The plans set out today to reform how absence fines operate, alongside our Schools Bill currently going through parliament, will improve consistency across the country and help tackle persistent absence.”
Parents whose children have five days of unauthorised absence or lateness within one term, take holidays during term-time, or are out in public during the first five days of exclusion will face a fixed penalty notice, the plans suggest.
A parent would face a maximum of two fines for each child within the school year, with prosecution considered the next step if this limit were reached.
The plans would also tighten up rules on pupil absence in the case of illness.
The current regulations allow a pupil’s name to be deleted from registers if their health makes it unlikely they can attend school.
The government said this is “outdated given changes to provision for pupils with medical conditions to enable many of them to continue their education in their own school”.
The government also suggests online learning could be recorded in the absence as a pupil’s participation in remote education cannot currently be recorded.
It said pupils with a child protection plan, education and health care plan or child in need plan should not be deleted from school rolls without the local council’s consent.
And the proposals suggest that pupils younger than compulsory schooling age should still have their absence recorded, whereas currently their attendance does not need to be recorded by law.
Pupils absent for 15 days or more for health reasons should also be reported to the local council to make sure they and their family get more support, the government said.
Dame Rachel de Souza, the children’s commissioner, has called for attendance to rise to 100% by the 2022 autumn term in September, and has urged academy trusts to do “whatever it takes” to achieve this.