School Attendance and Pupil Welfare
Penalty Notices for Regular Non-Attendance at School/Alternative Education Provision
In 2013, the Welsh Ministers made the Education (Penalty Notices) (Wales) Regulations.
The regulations say that a Council must have a Code of Conduct that sets out measures to ensure consistency in the issuing of penalty notices.
What is a Penalty Notice?
A penalty notice is one of the interventions available to promote better school attendance. A child that attends school regularly will benefit more from the opportunities that school provides than a child that does not attend school regularly.
Where the circumstances for issuing a penalty notice are met, a penalty notice can be issued to a parent whose child fails to attend school/alternative education provision regularly.
A penalty notice offers a parent the opportunity of discharging any liability to conviction for an offence under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996* which is specified in the notice, by payment of a penalty in accordance with that notice. (*Section 444 of the Education Act includes provision that 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).
Penalty notices can apply in respect of children who are compulsory school age. PCC will therefore not use penalty notices for nursery age children or pupils who are in a sixth form (years 12 and 13).
If a penalty notice is issued, the penalty is £60 if paid within 28 days of receipt of the notice. This rises to £120 if paid after 28 days but within 42 days of receipt of the notice.
Pembrokeshire's Code of Conduct for Penalty Notices Irregular Attendance at School/Alternative Education Provision.
Authorised / Unauthorised Absence
A school's head teacher or another person in the school who is authorised on behalf of the school, has the responsibility to decide whether or not a pupil's absence should be authorised. Welsh Government has produced guidance to help this decision making.
Holidays in term time
It is important that your child attends school regularly throughout the term in order to gain the maximum benefit from the education provided. Any applications for leave for a holiday during term time made by a parent with whom the pupil normally resides, will be considered on an individual basis by the head teacher or another person in the school who is authorised in that behalf, and it is at their discretion as to whether or not to authorise the absence. Save in exceptional circumstances, the pupil must not be granted more than ten school days leave for that purpose in any school year.
Who can issue a Penalty Notice?
Only the Local Authority should issue fixed penalty notices in accordance with the Code of Conduct.
If the police or a school asks PCC to issue a penalty notice, PCC will review all the paperwork provided and an authorised officer will decide if it is appropriate to issue a penalty notice.
This is to ensure that a consistent approach is used for issuing penalty notices.
When will a Penalty Notice be issued?
The Code of Conduct sets out the circumstances for issuing a penalty notice, setting out that the key criteria should be as follows:
When a pupil has a minimum of 10 sessions (five school days) that have been lost due to unauthorised absences during the current term and this brings the pupil's overall attendance to below 90% in the school year to date (these absences do not have to be consecutive).
*unauthorised absences include:-
-unauthorised non-attendance at school;
-unauthorised holidays in term-time; and
-unauthorised late arrival after registration has closed.