Fixed penalty notices

In light of the current unprecedented times we find ourselves in, no Penalty Notices will be issued by South Gloucestershire Council for Covid-19  related absence, for the period 16th March for an 8 month period.  The code of conduct will be reviewed within that period, to ensure continued adherence to Government guidance.

A penalty notice is a fine issued by South Gloucestershire Council to parents/carers of a child who has failed to attend school regularly and whose absence is unauthorised.  It does not require the parent to attend court but is an alternative to prosecution in the magistrate’s court. Parents/carers who pay the fine in full within the time limits cannot later be prosecuted for the offence to which the penalty notice relates (Section 444 of the Education Act 1996).

Penalty notices have been introduced because reducing absence from school is a key priority of the government and local authority.  Missing school may limit a pupil’s attainment, disrupt school routines and the learning of others, and can leave a pupil vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and youth crime.

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When might a penalty notice be issued?

A penalty notice may be issued to a parent in one or more of the following circumstances where more than 10 sessions* of absence are recorded in 7 school weeks (i.e. 70 sessions):

  1. where unauthorised absences are recorded
  2. where more than 10 sessions of unauthorised holiday are recorded and;
    a) the parent has not informed the school; or
    b) the leave was not authorised; or
    c) the child did not return on the agreed date
  3. where the child is persistently late arriving at school after registers have closed
  4. where a combination of more than 10 sessions of a) to c) above have been

*There are 2 sessions per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

How much is the fine?

The fine is £60 (per parent, per child) if paid within 21 days of receipt of the notice; rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days.  For example a two - parent family taking 2 children out of school for an unauthorised holiday would be liable for a total of £240 if paid within 21 days or £480 between 21 and 28 days.  The payment must be made in full, partial payments will not be accepted.  Details of how to pay are printed on the penalty notice.

What can you do to avoid receiving a Penalty Notice?

  • ensure your child attends school every day and on time
  • make sure your child understands that they cannot have odd days off school - 'Every Lesson Counts'
  • speak to the class teacher or tutor if your child is beginning to miss odd days
  • do not take family holidays in term time.

Is there an appeal process?

There is no right of appeal against the penalty notice.  If you believe it was incorrectly issued to you, you should contact the Senior Education Officer immediately (number below).  If you believe that you are not guilty of the offence and therefore decide not to pay the notice, you have the right to represent your case at the Magistrates Court.  You should seek legal advice before making this decision.

What happens if I do not pay?

If you have not paid the penalty notice in full before the 28 days allowed, the authority is required to commence legal proceedings in the Magistrates Court for the original offence of failure to ensure regular attendance at school.  If proven, this could result in a fine of up to £1000 under Section 444 (1) or up to £2500 and/or three months imprisonment under Section 444 (1A), a Parenting Order or other sanctions at the Magistrates' disposal. You are strongly urged to seek legal advice if you are considering not paying the penalty notice.

Further information and advice

Department for Education - School attendance: Statutory guidance and advice:  

0808 802 0008

08444 111 444  

0300 0115 142


Amanda Lowe - Senior Education Officer
Tel: 01454 863403
South Gloucestershire Council
Department for Children, Adults & Health
PO Box 1955
South Gloucestershire
BS37 0DE

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