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Non-School Attendance Fixed Penalty Notice

Local Code Of Practice

General And Background

  1. Legal basis
  2. Rationale
  3. Legal practicalities
  4. Who may issue a penalty notice
  5. Circumstances for issuing a penalty notice
  6. Withdrawal of a penalty notice
  7. Representation
  8. Payment of penalty notice
  9. Non-payment of penalty notice
  10. Operational details
  11. Truancy patrols
  12. Annual review
  13. How to get further information
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1. Legal basis

Section 23 of the Anti-Behaviour Act 2003 empowers designated local authority (LA) officers, head teachers (deputy and assistant headteachers authorised by them) and the police to issue penalty notices in cases of unauthorised absence from school.

The education penalty notices (England) regulations 2004 came into force on 27 February 2004.

The issuing of penalty notices must conform to all requirements of the Human Rights Act and equal opportunities legislation.

The LA has the prime responsibility for developing the protocol within which all partners named in the act will operate.

Regular and punctual attendance at school is both a legal requirement and essential for pupils to maximise their educational opportunities.

In law, an offence occurs if a parent fails to secure their child's attendance at school and that absence is not authorised by the school.

Penalty notices supplement the existing sanctions currently available under S444 Education Act 1996 or S36 Children Act 1989 to enforce attendance at school where appropriate.

The Education Welfare Service (EWS) delivers this LA responsibility.

The issuing of penalty notices will be based on clear threshold criteria which will need to be applied consistently and equitably across the borough's schools.

Any person authorised to issue a notice in Haringey must comply with the guidance set out in this code of conduct.

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2. Rationale

Parents and pupils are supported at school and LA level to overcome barriers to regular attendance through a wide continuum of assessment and intervention strategies.

Sanctions of any nature are for use only where parental co-operation in this process is either absent or deemed insufficient to resolve the presenting problem.

Sanctions are never used as a punishment, only as a means of enforcing attendance where there is a reasonable expectation that their use will secure an improvement.

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3. Legal practicalities

The full penalty of £120 per parent per child is imposed, but if paid within 21 days of receipt of the notice the amount payable is £60.

If the notice has not been paid in full by 28 days of receipt the council must either prosecute for the offence or withdraw the notice.

This prosecution is for the offence of failing to secure attendance at school not for non-payment of the fine.

Prosecutions are brought under S444 Education Act 1996.

Withdrawal of the notice can only take place in very limited circumstances as set out in this code of conduct.

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4. Who may issue a penalty notice

A Penalty Notice may only be issued by

  • Authorised LA staff. In Haringey this will be members of the EWS.
  • Headteachers and school staff authorised by them (this is limited by regulation to deputy and assistant heads) but may request the EWS to issue a notice.
  • A police officer during a truancy sweep under the provision of crime and disorder act 1998 may request the EWS to write a notice.
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5. Circumstances for issuing a penalty notice

A penalty notice can only be issued in cases of unauthorised absence. It would be considered appropriate to serve a notice in the following circumstances

  • overt truancy
  • parentally condoned absences
  • excessive holidays in term-time
  • excessive delay in returning from extended holidays without agreement
  • persistent late arrival at school i.e. after the register has closed.

A penalty notice may be issued if

  • a registered pupil has been absent for more than 20 sessions in any six week period,

And

  • the LA is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to show the parent has committed an offence under s444(1) of the Education Act 1996,

And

  • a formal warning of the possibility of a penalty notice being issued has been served giving a maximum of 15 school days to effect an improvement,

And

  • a penalty notice has not been issued in the past 12 months in respect of the child in question (if so alternative processes are necessary).
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6. Withdrawal of a penalty notice

Once issued a penalty notice may only be withdrawn by the LA in the following circumstances

  • proof has been established that the Penalty Notice has been issued to the wrong person
  • The notice ought not to have been issued i.e. where it has been issued outside the terms of this code of conduct or no offence has been committed.
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7. Representation

There is no statutory right of appeal against the issuing of a penalty notice

The parent will be advised, when they receive the warning that they may make representation to the Principal Education Welfare Officer, EWS, setting out reasons why they should not be issued.

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8. Payment of penalty notice

Arrangements for payment will be detailed on the penalty notice. Generally, arrangements will be in place to allow for either personal payment at an office address or by post.

Payment of the notice discharges the parent's liability for the period in question and they cannot be subsequently prosecuted under other enforcement powers for the period covered by the notice.

The LA retains any revenue from any penalty notice to cover enforcement costs.  It is unlikely that revenue will be greater than enforcement costs.

If revenue is greater than enforcement costs that sum is held by central government.

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9. Non-payment of penalty notice

Non-payment of a penalty notice will result in the withdrawal of the notice and will trigger the fast-track prosecution process under the provisions of S444, 1996 education act.

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10. Operational details

  • As a precursor to the introduction of notices, our EWS will develop a general parental letter advising of the new sanctions and possible applications
  • The EWS will receive requests to serve notices and will comply when the circumstances of the pupil's absence meets the criteria
  • Schools party to this code of conduct, wishing to request the issue of fixed penalty notices, will amend their attendance policies accordingly.
  • Schools will notify the EWS of all cases of more than twenty unauthorised absence sessions in any six week period.
  • The EWS will maintain a record of all notifications and make an assessment of the individual circumstances.
  • Where unauthorised absence continues, a formal warning letter will be issued which details the possibility of a notice being issued and stating that improvement must be seen within a specified time scale - this will be no more than 15 school days.
  • In specific circumstances e.g. taking of excessive holidays - an improvement period does not have to be set out.
  • The EWS will monitor all referred cases and in cases of continued unauthorised absence, where parents have not taken responsibility for ensuring attendance, a penalty notice will be served.

A penalty notice issued by the EWS will usually be delivered by post.

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11. Truancy patrols

A penalty notice will only be issued after due consideration when all facts are known and the threshold for serving the notice has been met.

Information is given to anyone stopped on a patrol, pupil and/or parent about the possible support and sanctions used to address non-attendance.

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12. Annual review

This code of conduct will be reviewed on an annual basis and may be amended depending on the outcome of the previous year’s operation.

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13. Further information

Education Welfare Service
Professional Development Centre
Downhills Park Road
Tottenham
N17 6AR

Tel 020 8489 3866
Fax 020 8489 5997
Email ews@haringey.gov.uk.

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