Tackling unauthorised absence: fining parents

Your school is legally entitled to fine parents if their child has poor attendance. Find out when you can issue a penalty notice and whether you can challenge local authority decisions on penalty notices and prosecutions.

Last reviewed on 3 May 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 2880
Contents
  1. Schools can issue penalty notices
  2. Guidance on issuing a penalty notice
  3. Only LAs can prosecute parents
  4. Can schools challenge an LA's decision?

Schools can issue penalty notices

To tackle poor attendance and behaviour in schools, local authorities (LAs) and all schools have legal powers to use:

  • Parenting contracts
  • Parenting orders
  • Penalty notices

Penalty notices are "an alternative" to prosecuting parents for failing to ensure their children attend school.

Penalty notices are fines that can be issued by:

  • A headteacher
  • A deputy or assistant head authorised by the headteacher
  • An LA officer
  • The police

They can be used when:

  • A pupil’s absence has not been authorised by the school; or
  • Parents allow their child to be present in a public place during school hours without reasonable justification during the first 5 days of a suspension (fixed-term exclusion) or permanent exclusion

How much is a penalty notice?

The penalty is:

  • £60 if paid within 21 days of receipt
  • £120 if paid after 21 days, but within 28 days 

All of the above is explained on