Regular and punctual attendance of pupils at school and alternative provisions is both a legal requirement and essential for pupils to maximise the educational opportunities available to them. As a parent or carer you are legally responsible for making sure that your child attends school and arrives on time. If your child fails to attend school (or an alternative education provision) without an authorised, acceptable reason you risk getting a penalty notice or being prosecuted.
Sections 444A and 444B of the Education Act 1996 provide that certain cases of unauthorised absence can be dealt with by way of a penalty notice. The introduction of these regulations mean that parents may now be fined for their child(ren)'s regular non-attendance.
A Penalty Notice involves a fine of £60 (rising to £120 if not paid after 28 days but within 42 days) following at least 10 sessions (5 school days) of unauthorised absence during a school term. Persistent late arrival at school i.e. after the register has closed, may also incur a Penalty Notice.
How a Penalty Notice will be used
- It is ONE of a number of tools that can be used alongside Education Supervision Orders (ESO) to improve attendance.
- It will be applied with the understanding of the context and background of the pupil's circumstances.
- A pupil's attendance needs to drop below a particular level before a Penalty Notice is used.
How Penalty Notices will not be used
- It will not be used for a pupil on the first day that he/she is out of school.
- It will not be used for every pupil who fits the criteria without taking into account the context. It will not be considered where there are mitigating factors.
- It is not a holiday fine or penalty notice for every pupil who takes a holiday. It will only be considered if there is regular non-attendance.