3. Circumstances where a fixed penalty notice may be issued
A Penalty Notice can only be issued in cases of unauthorised absence.
Use of Penalty Notice will be restricted to two per pupil per academic year.
Parents will receive a formal written warning before the Local Authority proceeds to issue a penalty notice. However, this is not necessary where a request for leave of absence during term time has not been made in advance of a child being absent from school.
Penalty Notices may be considered appropriate for persistent absence when input from the Warwickshire Attendance Service has failed to affect a return to school.
A Penalty Notice can be issued in any of the following specific circumstances:
3.5.1 Attendance targets (for persistent absence)
Where at least 10 sessions (5 school days) are lost due to unauthorised absences in any 100 session (50 school day) period.
3.5.2 Truancy Sweeps
Where a pupil is stopped on a truancy sweep and there is not a valid reason for the absence from school, the Local Authority will send a letter to the parent(s) advising them that further unauthorised absences over the following 15 school day period may result in a penalty notice being issued. Prior to a notice being issued the Local Authority will consult with schools to agree this action.
3.5.3 Leave of Absence during term time.
The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendments) Regulations 2013 came into force on 1st September 2013 and amended the 2006 regulations removing the reference to ‘holiday’, ‘extended leave’ as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days. The amended regulations state the head teacher (or authorised person) may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are “exceptional circumstances” that apply to that application. The head teacher should consider each application on a case-by-case basis and on its own merits. It is at the head teacher’s discretion if the exceptional circumstances warrant the authorisation of the leave and should also determine the number of days the pupil should be absent for. Head teachers should make clear to parents the date on which the pupil will be expected to return to school. All requests for leave of absence must be made in advance and by the parent/carer with whom the child normally resides.
A Penalty Notice will be issued when leave of absence has been taken but the school have not received and authorised a request for the same in advance (where it can be clearly demonstrated that the parent/carer understood that permission had not be given).
The law does not set a minimum number of sessions for which a Penalty Notice for Leave of Absence during term time will be issued. Warwickshire County Council will consider each referral on a case by case basis and on its own circumstances, once the absence has occurred.
3.5.4 Excessive delayed return from holiday
Where leave has been granted by the head teacher, parents should be informed by letter of an agreed return date and what will occur if the pupil fails to return to school on the date stated. The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 also enables schools to delete from their roll pupils who have failed to attend on the agreed return date. Following this date, reasonable enquiry should occur by the school and local authority to ascertain the pupil’s whereabouts in an attempt to locate the pupil prior to deletion.
3.5.5 Persistent late arrival at school
When a pupil persistently arrives late, schools should investigate the reason for this and offer support where appropriate to rectify the situation. Where the arrival time is after the close of registration period, the late mark, code U, an unauthorised absence should be recorded. The same process applies when requesting and issuing a penalty notice as that of the persistent absence process.