The law requires all parents to ensure their child attends school regularly and on time. Research shows that children often do not catch up on work missed, and this is highly likely to have serious consequences for their learning and progress. The government is very clear that all schools must aim to have the highest possible attendance for all of their pupils in order for them to achieve their potential. The school target is 96% attendance.
The Local Authority have introduced a system where any pupil who has an attendance of 90% or less is deemed a ‘persistent absentee’. The school and parents need to work together to improve attendance. If initial intervention does not work the 'Fast Track' process will be started. If this does not work parents could face legal action.
Fixed Penalty Notices
A Fixed Penalty Notice will be issued to each parent for each child.
To ensure consistent delivery of penalty notices, the following criteria will apply:
- at least 9 sessions (4.5 school days) lost to unauthorised absence by the pupil during the last 6 school weeks
The issuing of a penalty notice is considered appropriate:
- when the pupil has been absent for the purposes of a holiday during term-time and the absence has not been authorised by the school
- when the pupil has arrived in school after registration has closed and the session has been recorded with a ‘U’
- when the pupil has accrued unauthorised absence from school and following consultation with the Local Authority Attendance Service it has been agreed that the issuing of a penalty notice is an appropriate early intervention tool
Penalty notices are £120 and need to be paid within 28 days. They decrease to £60 if paid within 21 days of issue. There is no right to appeal against a penalty notice. Failure to pay will result in prosecution.
For more information on fixed penalty notices, follow this link:
For general information around school attendance, please follow this link:
What is an “Unauthorised” absence?
An Unauthorised Absence is any absence that the school has not given permission for, or the parent/carer has been unable to provide a reason for the absence, which is acceptable to the school.
What is an “Authorised” Absence?
Regulations make it clear that schools can only authorise a leave of absence for:
- Medical appointments
- Religious observance
- Exceptional circumstances (e.g. a family funeral).
Neither should schools authorise absences if they believe it is to the detriment of a student’s education or if the absences are during school exam periods and SAT’s.
What about family holidays in term-time?
The regulations make it clear that Headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. Family holidays do not constitute exceptional circumstances.
What happens if we still go on holiday anyway?
If you still go on holiday, the school has to refer the case to the Local Authority for action to be considered. You could be liable for a Fixed Penalty Notice.