Toggle menu

Fines for missing school

Penalty notices

Penalty notices are fines of £60 or £120 given to parents of school-age children who are out of school without permission from the headteacher. Penalty notices can be issued to both parents of a child, as well as each child in the family. They can be used by the school in any of the instances on the following pages.

Unauthorised (not agreed) holidays in term time

A fine can be issued to parents taking their child out of school for a family holiday of 10 days or more where the school have not agreed to the holiday.

Truancy sweeps

A fine may be issued to parents of pupils stopped more than once on a 'truancy sweep' if the pupil is absent as listed on this page.

Condoned (allowed by the parent) absence

A fine can be issued to parents of pupils who have 20 half days' absence not agreed by school recorded on the school register within 10 school weeks.

The school must allow 15 days for the attendance to improve before a fine will be issued.

Being late for school

A fine can be issued to parents of pupils who arrive very late (after school have closed the register) 10 or more times within 10 school weeks.

When a child is outside the home during an exclusion from school

Children who have been excluded from school must not play out or go on trips during school time that school have not allowed.

A fine can be issued to parents of pupils seen out by a police officer or a community support officer without a good reason during an exclusion from school.

How much is a penalty notice fine?

The fine is £60 if you pay within 21 days of the day the fine was issued.

If the fine is not paid in 21 days it will go up to £120, you are then allowed seven more days to pay the £120.

If the fine is not paid within 28 days of the day the fine was issued it will be withdrawn and you will not be able to pay.

The fine will tell you how to pay. The fine must be paid in full 28 days of the date it was issued. You cannot make part payments.

There is no right of appeal by parents against a penalty notice fine. If the penalty is not paid in full by the end of the 28 days allowed, the local authority will decide either to send the parent to court for the school absence or withdraw the fine.

Withdrawing penalty notice fines

A fine may only be withdrawn if:

  • It was issued to the wrong person
  • It did not meet the terms in the local authority code of conduct
  • The Penalty Notice has mistakes
  • The parent has not paid the fine and the local authority is not sending the case to court

Code of conduct

The Education (Penalty Notices) Regulations 2007 set out the details of how the penalty notice scheme must operate. We have a  penalty notice code of conduct  (PDF) [243KB] (opens new window)  for issuing penalty notice fines.  

The code tells schools what can trigger a penalty notice fine.


Only the local authority can prosecute parents. The local authority considers the Attorney General's guidelines for Crown Prosecutors in all prosecution cases.

Our Education Welfare Service conducts all investigations in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act 1984.

Education Act 1996

Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 has separate but linked offences; these are:

  • Section 444(1): where a parent fails to secure the child's regular attendance
  • Section 444(1A): where a parent knows that the child is failing to attend school regularly, and fails to ensure the child does so
  • Section 444(ZA): where parents fail to secure the regular attendance of their child at an alternative provision

There are statutory defences for parents to use under the 1996 Act.

The fines available to the courts if parents are found guilty are:

  • Section 444 (1) a level 3 fine of up to £1,000
  • Section 444 (1A) a level 4 fine of up to £2,500 and imprisonment for up to three months

Under Section 103 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 the LA has the power to prosecute parents of pupils found in a public place during school hours after being excluded from school.

  • The fine is a level 3 fine of up to £1,000.

School Attendance Orders

Under section 437 of the Education Act 1996, a School Attendance Order can be imposed if it appears that a child of compulsory school age is not receiving a suitable education, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Education Supervision Orders

Under section 447 of the Education Act 1996, the local authority must consider applying for an Education Supervision Order (ESO) before prosecuting parents; the local authority may apply for an ESO instead of or as well as prosecuting parents.

Parenting Orders

Parenting Orders are requested by the Education Welfare Service to support parents to address attendance issues. This requires parents to attend a six-to-eight-week parenting course.