Reducing unauthorised absence from school is a key priority nationally and locally because missing school damages a pupil’s attainment levels, disrupts school routines and the learning of others.
Truanting can also leave a pupil vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and youth crime.
What is a penalty notice?
Under existing legislation, parents/carers commit an offence if a child fails to attend school regularly and the absences are classed as unauthorised (absences without a valid reason).
Depending on circumstances such cases may result in prosecution under the Education Act 1996.
A Fixed Penalty Notice is an alternative to prosecution, which does not require an appearance in court. Payment of a Fixed Penalty Notice enables parents/carers discharge what is potentially the liability for a criminal conviction.
What are the costs?
The penalty is £60 if paid within 21 days of receiving a notice and £120 if paid after this but within 28 days
How are they issued?
By second class post or by hand delivery to your home.
When are they used?
We consider that regular attendance at school is of such importance that Fixed Penalty Notices may be issued:
- Where unauthorised absence levels are unacceptable
- For unauthorised leave in term time
- Where parents are unwilling to sign a contact offering support and attendance is below 90% over a six week period without justification
- Where parenting contracts or orders have been unsuccessful, or not complied with
- Where a pupil is in a public place during school hours, without reasonable justification, during days one to five of a fixed term or permanent exclusion
We never take such action lightly and would far rather work with parents/carers to improve attendance without having to resort to enforcement action. Attendance is regarded as highly important and we will use our powers if this is found to be the only way of getting a child to attend school.
What do I do if I get a fixed penalty notice?
If you receive a notice, it is important to pay this as soon as possible.
What happens if I do not pay?
You have up to 28 days from issue to pay the fixed penalty notice in full, after which we are required to start proceedings in the magistrates’ court for the original offence of failing to ensure your child’s attendance at school.
If proved, this can result in a fine of up to £2,500, plus costs.
Is a warning given?
Yes, in the first instance you will receive a written warning of the possibility of a notice being issued. This will tell you the extent of your child’s unauthorised absences and give you six weeks in which to effect an improvement. In that time your child must have no unauthorised absences from school. Failing this a Fixed Penalty Notice may be issued.
Is there an appeal process?
No. There is no statutory right to appeal once a notice has been issued. If you consider that a notice has been wrongly issued to you, you can make representation for it to be withdrawn. If it is not withdrawn, you must pay the penalty or you may be prosecuted for failing to ensure your child’s attendance at school.
Can I get help if my child is not attending school regularly?
Yes, along with your child’s school, we will give you advice and support if you need help to secure an improvement in your child’s attendance.
It is very important that you speak with school staff or with the education welfare officer for your child’s school at the earliest opportunity if you have any concerns at all about your child’s attendance.
Email the education welfare team
Telephone: 020 8583 2622
Children’s and Adults' Services