Leave of Absence during Term Time
The Government have re-established section 444(1) of the Education Act which allows for parents to be prosecuted for the failure to secure their child’s regular attendance at school.
If you are a parent of a child of statutory school age (between five and 16 years) who is registered at a school you are responsible for making sure s/he attends school regularly.
Who is a parent?
• Any natural parent, whether married or not
• Any parent who, although they are not a natural parent, has parental responsibility (as defined in the Children Act 1989) for a child or young person
• Any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person. Having care of a child or young person means that a person with whom the child lives and who looks after the child, irrespective of what their relationship is with the child, is considered to be a parent in education law
What are the fines?
A Penalty Notice fine offers a parent an alternative to prosecution. However, failure to pay a Penalty Notice will usually result in the original case being referred to a Magistrates’ Court. The fine is £120 to be paid within 28 days but will be reduced to £60 if paid within 21 days. Penalty Notice fines are issued per parent, per child and all fines issued must be paid.
What is a prosecution?
If a parent is prosecuted this would take place in a Magistrates’ Court under section 444 of the Education Act 1996. Prosecution could result in a fine of up to £2,500, a community order or a jail sentence of up to three months. The court can also issue a Parenting Order. Prosecution in a Magistrates’ Court would be via a Single Justice Procedure Notice (which removes the need for a formal hearing to take place) or by summons for a parent to appear at a Magistrates’ Court in person.
Parents can be prosecuted for issues including:
• Ongoing unsatisfactory school attendance
• Repeated cycles of short-term improvements linked to the Penalty Notice process
• Unauthorised leave of absence during term time (including holidays) which is excessive in length
• Repeated periods of unauthorised leave of absence taken during term time (including holidays)