Sections 444A and 4441B of the Education Act 1996 Empowers designated Local Authority (LA) Officers, to issue Penalty Notices in cases of unauthorised absence from school.
The Education Welfare Service has a statutory duty to remind parents of their legal responsibilities regarding ensuring their children are receiving the full-time education to which they are entitled. Where a parent has failed to ensure the regular attendance the Education Welfare Service will consider issuing Penalty Notices, in line with the Local Code of Conduct for irregular attendance including unauthorised Term Time leave.
A Penalty Notice is currently £60 per parent per child, if not paid within 21 days this increases to £120 per parent per child. The purpose of the Penalty Notice is to prevent the escalation of unauthorised absences and to avoid prosecution. There is no power of appeal.
The Penalty Notice can be an alternative to prosecution. Payment of a Penalty Notice enables parents to discharge what is potentially the liability of a criminal conviction.
Under existing legislation parent/carers commit an offence if a child has failed to attend school regularly. Where parent/carers have knowingly failed to ensure the regular attendance of their child/children, legal action will be considered/proceed under Section 444(1a) of the Education Act 1996. All cases are heard at a Magistrates Court.
Where parent/carers are found guilty they will receive a criminal record, which must be declared to their employee as well as being at risk of receiving much higher fines, community orders, rehabilitation orders or probation.