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Penalty Notices for Unauthorised Absenses

Information for Parents/Carers:

Each parent/carer issued with a Penalty Notice has to pay a Penalty Fine.
 
What is a Penalty Notice?
 
Under existing legislation, parents/carers commit an offence if a child fails to attend regularly and the absences are categorised as unauthorised (the school viewing reasons provided as unacceptable; or no explanations received; or ‘truancy’). Depending on circumstances such cases may result in prosecution under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996. However legislation allows the Local Authority to issue a Penalty Notice under Section 23 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 to each parent/carers with responsibility for a child in respect of the offence.
 
A Penalty Notice is seen as a simpler sanction to focus parents on their responsibilities and does not require an appearance in Court. Payment of a Penalty Notice offers a person the opportunity of discharging any liability to conviction of the offence under section 444(1) to which the notice relates.
 
How are they issued and who are they issued to?

They are issued by post to your home. No more than one will usually be issued for each child in any academic year to each parent/carer. More than one maybe issued to excluded children or for multiple unauthorised holidays in term time. Each parent/carer issued with a Penalty Notice has to pay a Penalty Fine.
 
When are they used? 
 
Bournemouth Borough Council considers that regular attendance at school is of such importance that Penalty Notices may be used in a range of situations where unauthorised absence occurs:

 

  • overt truancy;
  • parentally-condoned absences;
  • unauthorised holidays and unauthorised extended absences during term-time;
  • persistent late arrival at school after the register has closed (which is categorised as an unauthorised absence);
  • an emerging pattern of unauthorised absences.

 

Is a warning given? 
 
The deliberate taking of a holiday in term-time without/against school permission, (where the parent/carer understood that permission had not/would not be given) and where this has created a period of unauthorised absence will result in a penalty notice being issued by the Education Social Work Service without warning. The school having already warned that such action will be taken in their letter refusing the holiday application.
 
A written warning will be sent from the Education Social Work Service when a pupil has had or is likely to have had a minimum of 6 sessions lost to unauthorised absence in the previous 6 weeks .
 
The written warning will indicate the extent of your child’s absences and give you 15 school days in which to effect an improvement.
 
A Penalty Notice can then be issued if there has been little improvement or if your child has been identified truanting during a Truancy Patrol.
 
Is there an appeal process? 
 
There is no statutory right of appeal once a Notice has been issued, but you can make representation to the Bournemouth Education Social Work Service if you believe the Penalty Notice contains factually inaccurate information and has been wrongly issued.  

What are the costs and how do I pay?

Payment within 28 days of receiving a Notice is £60 and £120 if paid after this within 42 days.
Details of payment arrangements will be included on the Penalty Notice. You need to be aware that payment in part or by instalment is not an option with Penalty Notices.
 
What happens if I don’t pay?

You have up to 42 days from receipt to pay the Penalty Notice in full, after which the Authority can under the Act commence proceedings in the Magistrates’ court for the offence of failing to securethe regular attendance of their child at their registered school. If the case is proven at court, the court can impose a fine, or community or custodial penalty.
 
Can I be prosecuted if I pay the Penalty Notice but my child is still missing school?
 
Not for the period included in the Penalty Notice – payment discharges your liability in this respect. However it may be the case that a prosecution might be considered for further periods of poor attendance not covered by the Notice, depending on the circumstances. If this is an issue, it is vital that you work closely with your child’s school and support agencies such as the Education Social Work Service.
 
Can I get help if my child is not attending regularly?
 
Yes, the Local Authority and your child’s school will give you advice and support if you need help to secure an improvement in your child’s attendance.
 
It is very important that you speak with the school or with the Education Social Work Service at the earliest opportunity if you have any worries at all about ensuring your child’s school attendance.
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