Children must attend school regularly and on time during term time.
Your child can only miss school if:
- they are too ill to go to school
- the school has authorised the absence.
4 Role of Pupil Entitlement: Investigation
When a child is recorded as absent from school without authority their parent(s) can be held accountable for an offence under S.444 of the Education Act 1996.
When unauthorised absence occurs, the school has the option to refer it to the local authority to consider intervention, dependent on the length and the reason for the absence. This can be by one of two pathways:
- A request for the use of a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)
- A request for the allocation of an Investigating Officer.
Referrals are reviewed and acted upon by Pupil Entitlement: Investigation (PE:I), who finalise which pathway of intervention is to be taken.
All cases referred to PE:I are considered on an individual, case-by-case basis, reviewing the submission made by the school. PE:I must be satisfied that an offence under the Education Act 1996 has occurred and then decide the form of intervention to be instigated, if any.
Interventions can be allocation to an Investigating Officer and/or the use of a Fixed Penalty Notice.
5 Role of the Investigating Officer
The Investigating Officer is tasked to ascertain whether the evidential requirements of the offence under the Education Act have been met. This is achieved by reviewing the submission from the school and by contacting the parent(s) and speaking to the child and other professionals. We encourage all parents to respond to our contact.
At the conclusion of the investigation a decision will be made as to the next steps which can include:
- the matter being referred to the Criminal Courts for non-attendance offences contrary to S.444 of the Education Act 1996
- the matter being referred to the Family Courts for the application of an Education Supervision Order - you can find information on ESOs on GOV.UK and by reading the supporting document below
- the case transferred to the FPN team
- the matter being closed.
6 Fixed Penalty Notices
Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) are generally issued where there have been at least 10 sessions of unauthorised absence from school within a recorded 10 school week period. However, there are some occasions where they are issued outside of these criteria.
FPNs are issued per parent, per child and are an alternative to prosecution. This gives the parent an opportunity to discharge their criminal liability by paying a fine of £120, which must be paid within 28 days. If you pay the FPN within 21 days, the amount is reduced to £60.
When FPNs have not been paid within the 28 days we will consider prosecuting for the original non-attendance, not for the non-payment of the FPN. Further information on legal action that can be taken can be found on GOV.UK. Alternatively, we may transfer the case to an Investigating Officer.
Please note: should the period of unauthorised absence for a holiday in term time be 15 school days or more, a FPN may not be deemed suitable. Instead the matter may be brought directly before the court.
Paying a Fixed Penalty Notice
You can pay online using the reference number stated on the FPN. A unique reference number for each child will be provided.Pay online (external link)
You will need to select 'Fixed Penalty Notice - School attendance fine'.
If you pay the fine within 21 days it is reduced by 50 per cent to £60. Once over the 21 days the fine must be paid in full. Both these amounts can be selected on the payment form. If you are over the 21 days and only pay £60 we will contact you to request the outstanding amount.
Alternative methods of payment are outlined on the FPN.
Further information on legal action that can be taken can be found on GOV.UK.
7 Holidays in term time
Headteachers have been directed by the Government not to authorise any absence from school unless there is an ‘exceptional' circumstance.
You must get permission from the headteacher if you want to take your child out of school for a holiday in term time.
It’s up to the headteacher on how many days your child can be away from school if it is granted.
8 Get in touch
General questions around school attendance, including the use of penalties, can be answered by Pupil Entitlement Investigation (PEI).
For details on how we collect your data, see our pupil entitlement privacy notice.