Following consultation with schools it has been agreed that from September 2014, when a school asks for a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) to be issued to the parents of a child who has been absent from school without authorisation, the Access and Inclusion Service will no longer issue an initial warning to the parents, but will proceed directly to issue the £60 Notice.
All other aspects of the process remain the same:
• if a child accrues 10 or more sessions of unauthorised absence over a 12 week period a school may request the Access and
Inclusion Service to issue a FPN of £60 to the parent(s);
• if this £60 is not paid within 21 days it increases to £120;
• if this £120 is not paid within 28 days the Access and Inclusion Service will then prosecute the parent(s) in the local
magistrates court. On conviction the parent(s) can be fined up to £1000.
• FPNs are issued on the basis of one per parent per child.
Schools are strongly encouraged to ensure that they notify all parents of this change in practice, particularly in relation to the school’s policy on term-time holidays. Schools are also advised to work together to ensure that parents who have children attending more than one local school receive a consistent response.
Previously when a school made a FPN referral to the Access and Inclusion Service the service issued the parents with a warning letter notifying them that if any further unauthorised absence was accrued within the following 15 days then a FPN would be issued. From September this warning will no longer be issued and any FPN referral will result in the immediate issue of a FPN.
Schools may choose to issue their own informal warning letters, to parents and then subsequently request the local authority to issue a FPN if the child accrues any further unauthorised absence. This will be for each individual school to decide on. The key point to remember is that the Access and Inclusion Service can only issue a FPN if the child has 10 or more sessions of unauthorised absence over a 12 (school) week period.
You will be aware that the issue of FPNs being issued to parents who take their children out of school for the purposes of family holidays is generating a great deal of media interest (eg see the front page of “The Sunday Times – 29/06/014). With this in mind schools are advised to carefully review their policies and procedures with regard to the granting of term-time holidays.