Penalty notices for persistent school absence on the rise
Penalty notices issued to parents whose children are persistently absent have been on the rise since 2010.
These figures could soar due to changes in the law which mean that from September 1, absences can only be approve if there are “exceptional circumstances”.
Head teachers used to have the power to authorise up to ten days of absences in “special circumstances”.
Now parents in the county will no longer be allowed to take their children out of school for term time holidays or days out.
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In September 2010 to August 2011 67 penalty notices were issued.
From September 2011 to August 2012 101 penalty notices were issued.
From September 2012 to 11 July 2013 156 penalty notices were issued.
The idea behind fixed penalty notices is to tackle persistent unauthorised absences.
The council claim the main reason for rise in figures is down to schools taking more of a stance, using more strategies to tackle any problems and wanting to improve achievements.
Before schools go down the penalty route they try to resolve the situation with other strategies through engaging with parents and discovering the reasons behind the absences.
Fixed penalty notices are the next stage when parents do not engage and there has been no reason given for persistent absence.
The school will always send a warning letter to parents that they may face penalty notice unless they co-operate and resolve a situation.
The county council issue fixed penalty notices, on behalf of schools.
Schools, including academies, make decisions on whether to pursue fixed penalty notices, and the council enforce it on their behalf.
The fine is a £60 flat rate which has to be paid within 21 days and if hasn't been paid it doubles to £120 which has to be paid within another 7 days.
If it is not paid within 28 days then court proceedings can then be entered into for persistent absence from school where courts can hand out penalties of up to £4000.
Parents can also be sentenced to up to three months imprisonment.