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Miss School - Miss Out

Oldham Council believe that any absence from school, for whatever reason, is detrimental to a child’s long-term life opportunities, so should be avoided if at all possible. Reducing absence from school is a key priority, both nationally and locally, because missing school damages a pupil’s attainment levels, disrupts school routines and can leave a pupil vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and youth crime.

For these reasons, the powers given under Section 23 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, 2003, have been adopted by Oldham. This gives an additional strategy to be used as a sanction when parents do not fulfil their responsibility to ensure their children attend school regularly.

Penalty Notices

Section 444(A) of the Education Act 1996, empowers the local authority to issue Penalty Notices in cases of unauthorised absence from school. 

This means that when a pupil has an unauthorised absence of 10 sessions (5 days) or more, in any 12-week period (where no acceptable reason has been given for the absence) or if their child persistently arrives late for school after the close of registration, their parents or carers may receive a Penalty Notice of £60 per parent per pupil if paid within 21 days, rising to £120 if paid within 28 days. 

The penalty notice will need to be paid in full before 28 days of the notice being served.

Failure to pay a penalty notice may result in prosecution.

Your Questions Answered

What does the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 do?

Section 23 of the Act gives powers to the Local Education Authority and other designated bodies to issue Penalty Notices where a parent/carer is considered capable but unwilling to secure an improvement in their child’s attendance at school. These powers came into force on 27 February 2004

What is a Penalty Notice?

Under existing legislation, parents/carers commit an offence if their child fails to attend school regularly, and the absences are classed as unauthorised. Such cases may result in a prosecution under Section 444 of the Education Act, 1996.

A Penalty Notice is an alternative to prosecution, which does not require an appearance in Court, whilst still securing an improvement in the pupil’s attendance.

What are the costs?

If payment is made within 21 days of receipt of a Notice the fine is £60 per parent per pupil, rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but before 28 days.

How are they issued?

By post to your home.

Is a Warning given?

You will receive a written warning of the possibility of a Notice being issued, which will tell you the extent of your child’s absences and give you 15 school days to effect an improvement. There is no limit to the number of formal warnings which can be issued.

Parents may also receive a Penalty Notice without a warning letter for the offence of failing to secure regular school attendance under the following circumstances:

  • Their child is stopped on a truancy sweep more than once
  • They go on holiday in term time without school’s permission
  • The child fails to return to school following a fixed term exclusion

Is there an appeal process?

There is no statutory right of appeal once a notice has been issued, but on receipt of a warning you can make representation should you wish to.

How do I pay?

Details of payment arrangements will be included on the Penalty Notice. Payment in part, or in instalments is not an option.

What happens if I do not pay?

You have up to 28 days from receipt of the Penalty Notice to pay in full. After this time, the Authority is required under the Act to commence proceedings in the Magistrates Court for the original offence, which is the poor attendance at school of your child. If proven, this can attract a fine of up to £2,500, or a range of disposals such as Parenting Orders or Community Sentences, depending on circumstances.

Can I be prosecuted if I pay the Penalty Notice but my child still does not attend school?

At the present time, the payment of the Penalty Notice means this period cannot be used in a future prosecution. However, a prosecution could be considered for further periods of absence not covered by the Notice.

Can I get help if my child is not attending regularly?

Yes. The School Attendance Team and your child’s school will give you help and support if you are experiencing difficulty in ensuring your child attends school regularly.


Education Attendance Service
Access & Inclusion
Oldham Council
Civic Centre
West Street
Oldham OL1 1LJ