School Attendance and the Law

School Attendance and the Law

19/01/22 - CONSULTATION: Education related Penalty Notices:

The code of conduct governing the use of penalty notices has reviewed and changes made to update the code.  The key changes are:

  • A proposed change to the criteria for requesting a Penalty Notice from 10 sessions in a period of 6 school weeks to 6 sessions in a period of 6 school weeks. This will enable the use of Penalty Notices as an early intervention tool for pupils whose attendance starts to fall below the Persistent Absence Threshold.
  • A notice can not be requested if a pupil’s attendance has below 80% (24 sessions of TOTAL absence) in the last 12 weeks (120 Sessions) prior to a notice being requested. This will ensure Penalty Notice requests are not used for pupils with entrenched levels of absence.
  • Introducing the issuing of Penalty Notices for pupils stopped on a School Attendance and Exclusion Sweep (also known as Truancy Patrol) on more than one occasion, with no justified reason for absence.
  • Penalty Notices for attendance for Year 11 pupils should not be issued later than the Spring term (previously Autumn term) to ensure the process can be concluded.
  • Clarify the considerations schools should undertake regarding intervention preceding a request for a Penalty Notice – points to consider introduced.
  • Parents/Adults over the age of 18 who live at the same address as the pupil will be equally responsible for the pupil’s attendance and consideration should be given for requesting penalty notices for each individual adult.

Schools are able to provide their views on the changes to the code of conduct, the closing date for providing comments is Friday 18th February 2022.
Please email all consultation comments to

The amended code of conduct can be downloaded here

A briefing accompanying the amended code can be downloaded here


The existing guidance and advice regarding penalty notices remains in force during the consultation period:


Please note; guidance for schools is available Here


Regular attendance at school is important. Failing to attend school regularly can have a major impact on children’s education, their future and their life chances. Regular attendance means attending school every day, arriving at school on time and attending every lesson.

Under section 7 of the Education Act 1996, parents are responsible for ensuring their child (of statutory school age) receives efficient full time education that is suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and to any special educational needs the child may have. This can be through regular school attendance or otherwise.  

Parents who fail to ensure their children attend school regularly without good reason could:-

  • Receive a Penalty Notice Fine of £60 per parent per child
  • Be prosecuted in the magistrate’s court and be fined up to £1,000
  • In more serious offences, or where parents have been previously prosecuted they could be fined up to £2,500 or face imprisonment

The legal measures available to Local Authorities in respect of School Attendance are detailed in the DFE document "School Attendance: Statutory Guidance and departmental advice" this document can be found here


Bradford Children's Services guidance for issuing penalty notices for unauthorised leave of absence in term time can be found Here. Penalty Notice request for Holiday/Leave of Absence Here


Prosecution Advice for Schools - Non School Attendance 

Where schools buy-in or employ their own independent educational welfare provider they cannot prosecute parents as this power remains solely with the Local Authority. However, they can make referrals to the Local Authority, which then decides whether to prosecute parents. Please see guidance for schools Here

Referral Process

Prior to making a referral for Penalty Notices or Prosecution please ensure you consider the questions on the checklist  below and provide related evidence as part of the referral. 

Please find the checklist  Here and complete the referral Here

To ensure the Local Authority has the right information available to consider your request for Penalty Notice or Prosecution please include all information on the checklist in the referral.  Failure to do this may result in the referral being returned for more information

Please ensure all referrals are completed electronically and emailed to


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