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2. Rationale

2.1 Penalties must be applied consistently and fairly.

2.2 We are responsible for developing the protocol within which all partners named in the Act will work.

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

2.4 Penalty notices supplement the existing sanctions currently available for this offence and offer a means of swift intervention which can be used to combat truancy problems before they become entrenched.

2.5 Parents and pupils will continue to be supported by their school, by the Attendance Compliance and Enforcement (ACE) team and appropriate services to overcome apparent barriers to regular attendance, through a range of intervention strategies.

2.6 Penalty notices and other sanctions will be used only where parental cooperation in this process is either absent or deemed insufficient to resolve the presenting issue.

2.7 A key consideration in deciding whether to issue a penalty notice for truancy will be whether it will help the pupil who is truant back into school or an alternative provision.

2.8 Penalty notices should be used as an early deterrent to prevent patterns of unauthorised absence developing and to supplement, rather than replace the use of, the wider powers already available. As with current legislative action, they are to be used for the enforcement of attendance and not for use as a punishment for absence.

2.9 They will be used as a means to support parents to meet their responsibilities in law, and where there is a reasonable expectation that their use will secure an improvement.

2.10 A penalty notice is a suitable intervention in circumstances where the parent is judged capable of securing their child’s regular attendance or whereabouts but is not willing to take responsibility for doing so.

2.11 They can only be used for periods of unauthorised absence and the defences in law replicate those already in place for enforcement actions under the provisions of Section 444 of the Education Act 1996.

2.12 The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended by the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendments) Regulations 2013 govern the authorisation of Leave of Absence. Penalty notices can be issued if Leave of Absence is not authorised by the school, it is referred to the Local Authority and the child is absent from school during the period requested.

2.13 Great care will be taken to ensure that notices are properly issued and only issued for offences where the local authority is willing and able to prosecute for the offence or irregular attendance.

2.14 Any prosecution would be for the offence to which the notice relates rather than non-payment of the notice and will follow the usual procedures of prosecution for irregular attendance (including considering an education supervision order in addition to, or as an alternative for, prosecution).