Penalty Notice Issue – Late Attendance at School
Section 7 of the Education Act of 1996 imposes on parents a legal duty to secure education for their children of compulsory school age whether at school or otherwise. A parent is defined to include all natural parents, whether they are married or not; any person or body who has parental responsibility for a child as defined by the Children Act 1989; and any person who although not a natural parent, has care of a child. This policy uses the word ‘parent’ to mean one or more parents or carers.
Having care of a child means that a person with whom a child lives and who looks after a child, irrespective of what their relationship is with that child, is considered to be a parent (see Section 576 of the Education Act of 1996).
The Local Authority’s Courts Manager has the authority to issue penalty notices in relation to multiple instances of lateness to school once the registers have closed (marked as ‘U’ on the registers).
Consideration as to whether a penalty notice for lateness is issued should consider if the sanction will prove to be effective in eliminating instances of late attendance and also if issuing such a notice would deter the behaviour from being entrenched.
Pupils should have a minimum of 5 instances of lateness (after registration closes) within a 5 week period. Once identified parents must be provided with a warning in order to address the problem. This should avoid the issue of a penalty notice. The warning must include a monitoring period of no more than 3 weeks and during this time the number of times late should decrease and a significant improvement noted.
If the issue of lateness improves within the monitoring period no action will be taken, however if there is no improvement, a penalty notice will be issued.
Schools are asked to complete the Penalty Notice Referral Form and forward this to the Courts Manager along with an up to date attendance printout signed by the Headteacher.
Penalty Notice Issue
If lateness to school persists, a penalty notice will be issued. Payment deadlines will be monitored. A reminder letter will be issued if the initial 21 day payment deadline is not met and if no payment is received by the 28th day the penalty notice must be withdrawn and consideration is then given regarding the parent being prosecuted in the Courts. Schools will be notified at the point of payment or at the point of expiry of the final payment deadline.
Payment within the 21 day deadline: £60.00
Payment after the 28 day deadline but within the £120.00
Non payment after 28 days Potential prosecution
If prosecution needs to occur, the penalty notice will be withdrawn and a summons will be raised against the parent/carer on the basis of non attendance with the possibility of facing a fine of up to £2500 and/or 3 months imprisonment. Prosecution will occur under section 444 (1) of the education act.
Schools are asked to support the LA with a section 9 statement explaining why the fine was raised and also if necessary to support the LA if a trail occurs.
The parent has no right of appeal against the penalty notice once issued.
A penalty notice cannot be withdrawn unless the Headteacher confirms it has been requested in error.
The following legislation is in place which enables the Local Authority to issue penalty notices and prosecute where applicable:
• The Education (Penalty Notices) (England) Regulations 2004
• The Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003-Section 23
• The Education Act 1996-Section 444
Queries and Support
Questions regarding the issue of penalty notices or undertaking legal action in relation to non attendance at school should be raised with your allocated Education Welfare Officer (EWO) or alternatively The Education Courts Team.
The Education Courts Team
9th Floor, International House
Education Courts Team
Tel: 020 7926 9614