No Fixed Penalty Notices during COVID-19 pandemic
The Government have decided that a parent should not be penalised for school-related absences from
16 March 2020 until when schools are open and return to normal operation.
Therefore, Suffolk County Council will not issue any Fixed Penalty Notices or prosecute any school absences recorded from 16 March 2020.
Fixed Penalty Notices issued before 16 March 2020
Any Fixed Penalty Notices or prosecutions for school absences issued before the 16 March 2020 will still be processed. However, HM Courts and Tribunal Service has had to reduce its service. Any case still waiting to be heard by the courts will be delayed and considered at a later date.
Read more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting courts on GOV.UK. We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause you.
The penalty notice issued is to each parent/carer for each child.
The penalty is:
- £60 if paid within 21 days
- £120 if paid between 21 and 28 days
The penalty must be paid in full - you cannot pay in instalments.
You can pay with a debit or credit card.
Details of other payment arrangements are included on the penalty notice.Proceed to payment
Why we issue penalty notices
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, 235KB).
What happens if I don't pay the penalty?
If you don't pay the penalty in full within 28 days of issue, the Local Authority is required to start legal proceedings against you in the local Magistrate’s Court for the original offence of failing to ensure your child attends school regularly.
This may lead to a fine of up to £1,000.
After payment of a penalty notice has been made parents and carers will no longer be liable for their child’s absence from school during the period to which the notice relates.
But, if your child has further periods of unauthorised absence from school, the local authority may decide to take you back to court for a further prosecution.
Penalty notice issued incorrectly?
Contact the school if you believe the school penalty notice has been issued incorrectly.
If you are still not satisfied after speaking with the School, then you should contact the school governors setting out your reasons why you think the Fixed Penalty Notice was issued incorrectly.
The information held by the Education Attendance Service is provided by the school.
Advice about school attendance
- Send your child to school on time every day.
- If your child is unwell, contact the school on the first day of absence and return your child to school as soon as possible.
- Make sure your child knows you do not approve of them missing school.
- Take holidays only during school holidays.
- Make sure your child goes to school with the correct uniform and equipment.
Get help early
Talk to staff as soon as any problems arise, they will work with you and your family to find a solution to the issue.
Read more about school attendances and penalty notices.