School attendance and penalty notices

About school attendance and unauthorised absences and what to do if you receive a school penalty notice and who to contact.

Attendance at school is vital for a child's ability to learn, develop and achieve.

As a parent or carer of a child of school age, you should:

  • send your child to school on time every day with the correct uniform and equipment
  • contact the child's school on their first day of absence if they are unwell, and return them to school as soon as they are well enough
  • take holidays only during school holidays

Absence

Your child's absence is only acceptable if:

  • your child cannot attend school due to illness, injury or other unavoidable causes (e.g. family bereavement) or
  • your family is observing a time of religious importance

and

  • leave has been authorised by the school
  • the local council has not provided transport for children living 2 miles away from school if they are aged 7 or younger, or for children living 3 miles away who are aged 8 and over

If your child needs time off please inform their school as soon as possible.

If you are worried about your child's attendance please contact:

  • their school and discuss it with them
  • If this does not resolve the issue then ask to speak to their school's education welfare officer. The school will have their name and contact details.

Penalty notices

A penalty notice will be issued to each parent or carer for each child.

Contact your child’s school if you've any questions about a penalty notice you've received.

The School’s headteacher decides if they wish to fine unauthorised absences from school by issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice. The headteacher then requests by a referral to the Local Authority to issue a fixed Penalty Notice on his or her behalf.

A local authority may decide to fine unauthorised absences from school by issuing a legal penalty notice.

The law says that if children of compulsory school age are absent from school without good reason they are committing an offence and their parents or carers may be prosecuted in the Magistrate's Court.

The local authority will issue penalty notices on the behalf of the headteacher where a pupil:

  • has an unauthorised absence during a school term. This can include persistently being late for school.
  • is stopped with parents/carers during a truancy sweep and the absence is not authorised by the school 

The penalty is:

  • £60 if paid within 21 days
  • £120 if paid between 21 and 28 days 

Paying a penalty notice

Learn how to pay a penalty notice or what to do if you believe the penalty notice was issued incorrectly.

Research shows the positive impact good school attendance has on a pupil's academic achievement:

Attendance (%)

Chance of getting 5 A* to C grades at GCSE

94 Very good
93 Good
92 Fair
90 <50%
88 <35%
<88 <30%


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