Actions we can take when children miss school

We want children to be safe and get a good education. This means they should attend school regularly unless they are ill. There are a number of steps we can take to help improve school attendance.

Education supervision orders

For ongoing poor attendance, we can apply to the courts for an Education Supervision Order. An education supervisor will then work with the family for up to a year to make sure the child receives full-time education.

School attendance orders

We can get a legal order requiring the parents to register the child if a child is not registered at a school and there are no alternative arrangements in place for the child's education.

School absence penalty notice warning letters 

You may get a penalty notice warning letter if your child is absent for 10 or more unauthorised sessions (a session is a half day), within a term or two consecutive half terms.

The letter will give you a period of 15 days in which to improve the child's attendance.

School absence penalty notice (fine)

We can send you a school absence penalty notice (PCN) in either of the following situations:

  • you get a penalty notice warning letter and within the 15 days there is no improvement in attendance or the improvement is not sustained
  • you take your child out of school in term-time without the head teacher's permission

You will get a separate penalty notice for each child who has been absent.

The fine is £60 per child for each parent/carer with parental responsibility if you pay within 21 days from the date of the notice. 

If you do not pay within 21 days, the fine is £120 per child for each parent/carer.

If you do not pay within 28 days we will take you to court. You could get a criminal record and you may be fined up to £1,000.

For full details about our approach see Code of conduct on penalty notices (PDF, 281KB).

Pay a school absence penalty notice

Legal action against parents who do not co-operate with us

We can take you to court if we try to work with you to improve your child's attendance but you do not co-operate with us. You will have a criminal record if the magistrate finds you guilty. You could go to prison for 3 months or face a fine of up to £2,500.

Contact us

Attendance and Children out of School Team
Floor 5
Delamere House
c/o Municipal Buildings
Earle Street

Page last reviewed: 17 November 2020