Reducing unauthorised absence from school is a key priority nationally and locally because missing school damages a pupil’s attainment levels, disrupts school routines and the learning of others. Truanting can also leave a pupil vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and youth crime.
What is a penalty notice?
Under existing legislation, parents/carers commit an offence if a child fails to attend school regularly and the absences are classed as unauthorised (absences without a valid reason).
Depending on circumstances such cases may result in prosecution under the Education Act 1996.
A Fixed Penalty Notice is an alternative to prosecution, which does not require an appearance in court. Payment of a Fixed Penalty Notice enables parents/carers discharge what is potentially the liability for a criminal conviction.
What are the costs?
An FPN is £60 if paid within 28 days of receipt of the notice, rising to £120 if paid after 28 days (but within 42 days of receipt). If the FPN is not paid in full by the end of the 42 days the local authority must either:
- Prosecute parents/carers in the usual way using section 444(1) and (1A) of the Education Act 1996) or
- Withdraw the FPN (in limited circumstances as set out in this Code of Conduct)
It will be the responsibility of schools/PRUs and/or police to request that the EWS issue an FPN and those requests will only be considered where there is proven evidence of unauthorised absence due to the following circumstances:
- Where there is a minimum of 10 unauthorised sessions (5 school days) in the current term (these do not need to be consecutive);
- Pupils persistently arriving after the close of the registration period i.e. more than 10 sessions in the current term; (Recommended that registers be kept open for thirty minutes);
- Where parent/carers have failed to engage with the school and/or the EWS in attempts to improve attendance but where court sanctions have not been instigated;
- A period of absence from school due to a holiday that was not authorised by school;
- A pupil has regularly come to the attention of the police during school hours and is absent from school without an acceptable reason.
We never take such action lightly and would far rather work with parents/carers to improve attendance without having to resort to enforcement action. Attendance is regarded as highly important and we will use our powers if this is found to be the only way of getting a child to attend school.
Procedure for issuing a fixed penalty notice
Once the EWS receive a request, we will:
- Send a formal written warning to the parent/carer notifying them that they may receive a fixed penalty notice and why;
- Set a period of 15 days to allow the parent/carer to respond. During the fifteen day period the pupil must not have any unauthorised absences from school;
- If at the end of the 15 days all facts are considered to be appropriate a penalty notice will be issued via first class post.
Where a school requests that a Fixed Penalty Notice be issued as a response to a period of unauthorised holiday absence the formal warning letter and 15 day improvement period will not apply.
Is there an appeal process?
No. There is no statutory right to appeal once a notice has been issued. If you consider that a notice has been wrongly issued to you, you can make representation for it to be withdrawn. If it is not withdrawn, you must pay the penalty or you may be prosecuted for failing to ensure your child’s attendance at school.
How do I pay?
You need to be aware that payment in part or by instalments is not an option with penalty notices.
You will need the following:
Please send payments by cheque with your name, address and your Fixed Penalty Notice Number (found overleaf) on the reverse of your payment to:
PO Box 9000
Cheques should be crossed and made payable to Cardiff Council.
Post-dated cheques are not accepted.
Please do not send cash by post.
Cash payment may be made in person at the following office only:
Education Welfare Service
The Mynachdy Centre
Can I get help if my child is not attending school regularly?
Yes, along with your child’s school, we 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, School Attendance Officer or with the Education Welfare Officer for your child’s school at the earliest opportunity if you have any concerns at all about your child’s attendance.
How to get further information
Further information on the operation of this code of conduct and penalty notices is available from:
Education Welfare Service
The Mynachdy Centre
029 2087 3619