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School attendance fines (penalty notices) FAQs

1. My husband/wife/partner has also received a penalty notice for the same offence – does that mean we both have to pay the fine?

Yes.

All parents of a child may be served a penalty notice for not making sure they attend school regularly.

Each penalty notice is individually issued per parent, per child, and all notices must be paid to avoid prosecution.


2. My partner has been issued with a penalty notice but they are not the natural father/mother of my child – do they still have to pay?

Yes.

The expression 'parent', in relation to a child or young person, includes any person who isn't a parent of the child but who has parental responsibility for him/her, or who has care of the child i.e. lives with, and has day to day contact with, the child.


3. Three penalty notices have been issued in respect of my child – one to each natural parent and one to a step-parent – is this right?

Yes.

All parents may be served a penalty notice for not making sure their child attends school regularly.

As explained above (question 2), the expression 'parent', in relation to a child or young person, includes any person who is not a parent of the child but who has parental responsibility for him/her, or who has care of the child.

This means a number of people may be given a penalty notice.


4. I'm an auntie/uncle/grandma/grandad/family friend, why have I been issued with a fine?

As explained above (question 2), the expression 'parent', in relation to a child or young person, includes any person who is not a parent of the child but who has parental responsibility for him/her, or who has care of the child.

You've been given the penalty notice because you're classed as a parent of the child under the Education Act 1996.


5. I've received a penalty notice for unauthorised leave but I feel the leave should have been authorised as the circumstances are exceptional/my child's attendance is otherwise excellent/my child is a high achiever/this is the first time I've removed my child from school – can I appeal the penalty notice?

There's no statutory right of appeal against a penalty notice.

It's up to the school's headteacher to decide whether or not an absence is deemed exceptional and recorded as authorised (in accordance with the Department for Education Guidance on Applying the Education Pupil Registration Regulations).

Any questions about the school's decision to request a penalty notice should be raised with the headteacher informally, or with the governing body through the school's complaints procedure.

The Education Welfare Service can't answer questions about a school's decision making processes. We'll always tell you to speak to the school directly.


6. My child was off sick, why have I been fined?

The attendance printout will show you the absences which have been marked as unauthorised and triggered the penalty notice.

The school decides whether or not to authorise absences for alleged illness. If you disagree with the school's decision, you should raise your concerns with the headteacher informally, or with the governing body through the school's complaints procedure.

The Education Welfare Service can't answer questions about a school's decision making processes. We'll always tell you to speak to the school directly.