Staff working in children and young people’s services will always aim to work with schools and parent and carers to improve pupil attendance.
However the local authority does have the responsibility to issue penalty notices following a referral from schools, who have requested a penalty to be issued because the absence of a pupil is unauthorised.
The local authority will issue penalty notices on the behalf of the headteacher where a pupil:
- has an unauthorised absence during a school term
- is stopped with parents/carers during a truancy sweep and the absence is not authorised by the school
Suffolk County Council is committed to providing all children with the best start in life. Good school attendance is a key factor in ensuring that children can make the most of their education.
The majority of parents and carers in Suffolk ensure that their children attend school regularly.
Unfortunately for a small but significant minority that is not the case. As a result, the headteacher may request the local authority to begin the process of issuing a legal penalty notice for unauthorised absence from school.
The legal basis for penalty notices
The law says that parents and carers whose children of compulsory school age are absent from school without good reason are committing an offence, and those parents may be prosecuted in the Magistrate’s Court.
Section 23 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 introduced additional powers under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 authorising local authorities to issue penalty notices in cases of unauthorised absence from school.
Download the Suffolk County Council Penalty Notice Code of Conduct (PDF, 236KB).