Attendance at School

Education Fixed Penalty Notices

Parents are legally responsible for ensuring that their children regularly attend the school at which they are registered. 

Unfortunately, some children fail to attend school regularly. The Local Authority has a number of legal powers, under Section 23 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 to address this issue. The Act allows the authority to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) to parents whose children fail to attend school regularly.

Further information can be found by clicking the links below:

There is much research that shows a strong correlation between high attendance and high attainment for all children. A recent publication from the Department for Education indicated that even missing a short amount of time from school can reduce every pupil’s chance of securing the grades they are capable of achieving. To view this publication, please click here (PDF, 675.27KB, 10 pages).

Following the recent decision by the Isle of Wight Magistrates that there was no case to answer against a father who removed his child from school for a holiday during term time, we wish to clarify for all our parents and carers both the current implications of this case; and the current position on absence from school particularly regarding holidays during term time.

The first is that:

  1. The recent Isle of Wight Magistrates' decision did not set a legal precedent and therefore is not binding on future prosecutions .
  2. Headteachers must continue to comply with the 2013 amendment to the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (2006) Regulations 2013 which mean that they cannot authorise a leave of absence from school unless it is exceptional.
  3. Parents/carers must comply with Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 that states that:-

“(1) If a child of compulsory school age who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at the school, his parent is guilty of an offence.”            

“(1A) If in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (1) the parent knows that his child is failing to attend regularly at the school and fails without reasonable justification to cause him to do so, he is guilty of an offence.”

Despite the recent decision it is the Local Education Authority’s view that the legal position remains that  parents and carers can be failing to comply with section 444 of the Education Act if their child has unauthorised absences even if those unauthorised absences are for a family holiday.

As such all Local Authorities and their Headteachers must continue to follow the law on attendance and implement the government’s guidance around attendance. This remains the legal expectation for all Education Authorities, and supports children in attending their statutory entitlement of 190 days per year. 

As a result our Code of Conduct currently remains unchanged.

It is of vital importance that all of us – the Local Authority, families, schools and children – do all we can to ensure children achieve the highest levels of attendance.

I have received a penalty notice, does the recent case affect whether I should pay? If you have received a penalty notice regarding school attendance, you are expected to pay this within the statutory period as detailed within the paperwork issued, or you may be subject to legal action.

To view further information regarding school attendance regulations on the Department for Education's (DfE) website, please click here.