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Inspection and Advisory Service (HIAS)

Possible penalties for non-attendance

Once you have registered your child at a school it is your responsibility to make sure that she/he attends regularly and punctually. If you fail to do so the Local Authority has a statutory duty to consider legal action to enforce school attendance.

There are a number of legal measures that the Local Authority can pursue, these include:

  • being issued a voluntary parenting contract

  • being included in the fast track system which means you will be given 12 weeks to improve your child's attendance

  • receiving a penalty notice. This is a fine of £60 per parent/carer for periods of unauthorised absence such as truancy, holidays in term time, lateness,unauthorised absence during formal exams, schools assessment or testing or poor patterns of attendance/punctuality

  • being prosecuted in the Magistrates’ Court. This means you could receive a community order, a fine of up to £2,500 per parent/carer or a custodial sentence

  • your child being issued with an education supervision order. This is an order where the child attends court and certain measures are put in place regarding attendance at school.

Update to parents regarding term-time absence, issuing of penalty notices and the HCC Code of Conduct in the autumn term 2016

Term time absence: Isle of Wight Council – v – Platt

This case was heard in the High Court in May. Since the decision was published, the Isle of Wight Council have sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. It is expected that this appeal hearing will take place within the next six months.

The law regarding term time absence, which includes holidays, has not changed; schools should not authorise absence in term time in line with Department of Education regulation unless headteachers believe the circumstances for the absence are exceptional. Guidance to help headteachers decide what could be considered ‘exceptional circumstances’ has been published by the National Association of Headteachers - NAHT guidance on authorised absence.

In this guidance exceptional absence must be seen as rare, significant, unavoidable and short. By unavoidable they mean - could not reasonably be scheduled for another time.

In June the Minister of State of Schools, Nick Gibb MP, wrote to all headteachers summarising the Government’s position following the Isle of Wight Council – v- Platt court case, see Nick Gibb's letter.

As instructed in the letter from the Minister of State for Education, Hampshire County Council is not refunding any penalty notices paid prior to the court case in May 2016.

Hampshire County Council has made its position clear to schools. The Council has confirmed that it is continuing to follow Department of Education regulation and is supporting schools to pursue legal intervention for poor attendance. The Council has advised headteachers that schools should pursue legal remedies where appropriate and continue to issue penalty notices where there is clear evidence of irregular attendance in accordance with the current legal interpretation of this.