1. Legal framework

1.1 Section 23 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 introduced new powers for designated local education officers, head teachers (and deputy or assistant head teachers authorised by them) and the police to issue penalty notices for unauthorised absence from school.

1.2 The Education (Penalty Notices) (England) Regulations 2004 came into force on 27 February 2004. This was updated with, The Education (Penalty Notices)(England) Regulations 2007 and amendment Regulations 2012, followed by additional amendment Regulations 2013 (coming into force on 1 September 2013).

1.3 Regular and punctual attendance at school is a legal requirement under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996.

1.4 Under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996, an offence occurs if a parent/carer fails to secure a child’s regular attendance at school at which they are a registered pupil, and the absence is not authorised by the school and none of the statutory defences apply.

1.5 Penalty notices must be issued in a manner which conforms to all requirements of the Human Rights Act and all relevant Equal Opportunities Legislation.

1.6 Section 576 Education Act 1996 defines ‘parent’ as:

  • Any natural parent, whether married or not
  • Any parent who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility as defined in the Children Act (1989) for a child or young person
  • Any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person.