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Information for Parents

What is a Penalty Notice?

Under existing legislation, parents/carers commit an offence if a child fails to attend regularly and the absences are classed as unauthorised (those for which the school cannot or has not given permission).  Depending on circumstances such cases may result in prosecution under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996.

The Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 introduced the Penalty Notice as an alternative to prosecution. A Penalty Notice does not require an appearance in Court but still aims to secure an improvement in attendance.

Reducing 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 and can leave a pupil vulnerable to anti-social behaviour, youth crime and exploitation.

Above all, missing school seriously affects children’s longer term life opportunities.

How much will it be?

£60 - If payment is made within 21 days.

£120 - If paid after this but within 28 days.  

How will they be issued?

By post, to the home address of the child’s parent or carer registered with the school or academy.

When will they used?

  • Penalty Notices may be used in the following circumstances:
    One off instances of irregular attendance such as holidays taken during term time without the authorisation from school.  This also includes events or trips to music/art festivals, extended weekends, special occasions as determined by parents or carers.  Check your child’s school attendance policy.
  • Where following a truancy sweep, enquiries show that the school has recorded the pupil's absence for that session as unauthorised.
  • In cases where pupils are persistently late for school after the register has closed.
  • In cases where a pupil’s parents fail to work with the school/academy and/or school attendance services or agencies to improve attendance.
  • Penalty notices may be issued to any or all parents as defined by section 576 of the Education Act 1996.
  • Parents will not be issued with more than 2 separate penalty notices per child in any twelve-month period.

Bath & North East Somerset Council does not take legal action lightly and would far rather parents and carers worked with their child’s school or academy to improve attendance without having to resort to its enforcement powers. 

Is a warning given?

Normally yes. You should receive a written warning from your child’s school or academy of the possibility of a Notice being issued, which will tell you the extent of your child’s absence and give you a limited timescale in which to effect an improvement.  In that time your child must have no unauthorised absence from school.

For instances of one off incidents of absence a penalty notice may be issued without a warning being issued.

There is no limit to the number of times formal warning of possible penalty notice issue may be made in any particular case.

Is there an appeal process?

There is no statutory right of appeal once a notice has been issued, but on receipt of a warning you can make representation should you wish to the school or academy.

How do I pay?

Details of payment arrangements will be included on the penalty notice. You need to be aware that payment in part or by instalment is NOT an option with penalty notices.

What happens if I do not pay?

You have up to 28 days from receipt to pay the penalty notice in full.  If full payment is not received within this timescale Bath & North East Somerset Council is required under the Act to commence proceedings in the Magistrates court for the original offence of poor attendance by your child.

If proven, this can result in fines of up to £2,500 and/or a range of disposals such as Parenting Orders, Community Sentences or imprisonment depending upon circumstances.

Can I be prosecuted if I pay the Penalty Notice but my child is still missing school?

Not for the period included in the penalty notice – payment discharges your liability in this respect.  However it may be the case that a prosecution might be considered for further periods of poor attendance not covered by the notice, depending upon the circumstances.  If this is an issue, it is vital that you work closely with your child’s school or academy and support agencies or services that may be engaged to work with you.  

Can I get help if my child is not attending regularly?

Yes, your child’s school or academy will give you advice and support if you need help with your child’s attendance. It is very important that you speak with the school or academy at the earliest opportunity if you have any worries at all about securing your child’s attendance.  Act early to address a pattern of absence, for example, your child may be stating they are ill on the same day each week – why?

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The Council’s Information Compliance Office can be contacted on (01225) 477000 or via email at information_governance@bathnes.gov.uk

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