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School attendance fines FAQs

1. You've sent my husband / wife / partner a penalty notice for the same offence. Do we both have to pay the fine?

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Yes.

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

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

2. You've sent my partner a penalty notice but they're not my child's natural parent. Do they still have to pay?

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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 them, or who has care of the child - in other words, they live with, and have day to day contact with, the child.

3. You've sent three penalty notices - one to each natural parent and one to a step-parent. Is that right?

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Yes.

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

As explained in question 2, the expression 'parent' includes any person who is not a parent of the child but who has parental responsibility for them, or who has care of the child.

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

4. You've sent me a penalty notice but I'm the child's auntie / uncle / grandparent / family friend. Why have I been fined?

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As explained in question 2, the expression 'parent' includes any person who is not a parent of the child but who has parental responsibility for them, 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 got a penalty notice for unauthorised leave but I think the leave should have been authorised. Can I appeal?

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I think the leave should have been authorised as there are exceptional circumstances / my child's attendance is always excellent / my child is a high achiever / this is the first time I've taken my child out of school. Can I appeal the penalty notice?


You can't appeal against a penalty notice.

It's up to the school's headteacher to decide if an absence is 'exceptional' and can be authorised (as per the Department for Education's Guidance on Applying the Education Pupil Registration Regulations).

If you have questions about the school's decision to request a penalty notice, you should raise these with the headteacher informally, or with the governing body through the school's complaints procedure.

The Education Welfare Service cannot answer questions about how schools make decisions. We will always tell you to speak to the school directly.

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

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The attendance printout will show you the unauthorised absences which the penalty notice is for.

Your child's school decides whether 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 cannot answer questions about how schools make decisions. We will always tell you to speak to the school directly.