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Penalty Notices

Penalty Notices are fines of £60/£120 given to parents of school-age children who are out of school without permission from the Headteacher. Penalty Notices can be issued to both parents of a child. Penalty Notices can also be issued to each child in the family. Penalty Notices can be used by the school in any of the following instances:

A fine can be issued to parents taking their child out of school for a family holiday of 10 days or more where the school have not agreed to the holiday.

A fine may be issued to parents of pupils stopped more than once on a truancy sweep if the pupil has absence as listed on this page

A fine can be issued to parents of pupils who have 20 half days absence not agreed by school recorded on the school register within ten school weeks.

The school must allow 15 days for the attendance to improve before a fine will be issued.

A fine can be issued to parents of pupils who arrive very late (after school have closed the register) ten or more times within ten school weeks.

Children who have been excluded from school must not play out or go on trips during school time that school have not allowed.

A fine can be issued to parents of pupils seen out by a Police Officer or a Community Support Officer without a good reason during an exclusion from school.

The fine is £60 if you pay within 21 days of the day the fine was issued.

If the fine is not paid in 21 days it will go up to £120, you are then allowed 7 more days to pay the £120.

If the fine is not paid within 28 days of the day the fine was issued it will be withdrawn and you will not be able to pay.

The fine will tell you how to pay. The fine must be paid in full 28 days of the date it was issued. You cannot make part payments.

There is no right of appeal by parents against a penalty notice fine. If the penalty is not paid in full by the end of the 28 days allowed the Local Authority will decide either to send the parent to court for the school absence or withdraw the fine.

A fine may only be withdrawn if:

  • It was issued to the wrong person
  • It did not meet the terms in the LA Code of Conduct
  • The Penalty Notice has mistakes
  • The parent has not paid the fine and the LA is not sending the case to court

The Education (Penalty Notices) Regulations 2007 set out the details of how the penalty notice scheme must operate. St Helens Council has a Penalty Notice Code of Conduct for issuing penalty notice fines.  

The code tells schools what can trigger a Penalty Notice fine.

Only the Local Authority can prosecute parents. The Local Authority considers the Attorney General’s Guidelines for Crown Prosecutors in all prosecution cases.

St Helens Education Welfare Service conducts all investigations in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act 1984.

Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 has separate but linked offences, these are:

  • Section 444(1): where a parent fails to secure the child’s regular attendance
  • Section 444(1A): where a parent knows that the child is failing to attend school regularly, and fails to ensure the child does so
  • Section 444(ZA): where parents fail to secure the regular attendance of their child at an alternative provision

There are statutory defences for parents to use under the 1996 Act.

The fines available to the courts if parents are found guilty are:

  • Section 444 (1) a level 3 fine of up to £1,000
  • Section 444 (1A) a level 4 fine of up to £2,500 and imprisonment for up to three months

Under Section 103 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 the LA has the power to prosecute parents of pupils found in a public place during school hours after being excluded from school.

  • The fine is a level 3 fine of up to £1,000.

Under section 437 of the Education Act 1996 if it appears that a child of compulsory school age is not receiving a suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Under section 447 of the Education Act 1996 the LA must consider applying for an Education Supervision Order (ESO) before prosecuting parents, the LA may apply for an ESO instead of or as well as prosecuting parents.

Are requested by the Education Welfare Service to support parents to address attendance issues. This requires parents to attend a six to eight week parenting course.