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School attendance fines (penalty notices)

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If your child misses school regularly, and they don't have a valid reason for being absent, there are a number of legal powers we can use. These include giving fines (we call these 'penalty notices') and taking court action.

The Education Welfare Service is responsible for making sure that parents and carers ensure their child attends school regularly.

What is a penalty notice?

A penalty notice is a fine given to parents whose child has unauthorised absences from school. You don't have to go to court if you get (and pay) a penalty notice.

The penalty notice will show the period of absence which the fine is for. If you pay the fine on time and in full, you won't be prosecuted. Please note, paying the fine won't stop you from having to make sure your child attends school regularly in the future.

We use penalty notices to try and raise levels of school attendance, which will help young people to achieve their full potential.

When will a penalty notice be given?

We think regular school attendance is very important, so penalty notices will usually be issued to parents:

  • whose child is of compulsory school age, and has 10 or more unauthorised absences in the previous seven school weeks
  • who take their child on a leave of absence during term time

Will I get a warning first?

If your child isn't attending school regularly, we (the council) will send you a letter. The letter explains the penalties for failing to make sure your child attends school regularly.

If your child goes on a leave of absence which isn't authorised by their school, the school will send you a letter. The letter explains the penalties for failing to make sure your child attends school regularly.

Your child's school and the Education Welfare Service can offer you advice and support to make sure your child attends school regularly.

How much is the fine?

£60 if the penalty is paid in full within 21 days.

£120 if the penalty is paid in full after 21 days, but within 28 days.

After 28 days, you won't be able to pay the fine, and we'll prosecute you in the Magistrates' Court for failing to make sure your child attends school regularly.

How can I pay the fine?

The easiest way to pay a penalty notice is online. Pay a penalty notice now.

You'll need the number from the top of your penalty notice (e.g. 'Penalty Notice No: 5569/030719'). Have a look at our example penalty notice to see where to find the penalty notice number.

You can also pay by cash in person at Middlesbrough House, or by phone using a debit or credit card by calling 01642 726001. You must pay the whole amount by the due date. You can't pay in instalments.

Details of how to pay can also be found in the penalty notice.

Can I appeal?

You can't appeal against a penalty notice.

We will only withdraw the penalty notice if you can prove that the fine shouldn't have been issued, or that it wasn't issued according to our code of conduct.

I have another question

We've put together a list of frequently asked questions about penalty notices. You should be able to find an answer to your question in that list.