Legal measures to support school attendance
The 2004 Education Act states that all children are required to receive a suitable education, either at school or otherwise.
When parents have registered their child at school, the law expects them to ensure that the child attends regularly. If the local authority believes that the child is not being educated properly, the Education Welfare Service will address this using various strategies which may include legal proceedings.
Parental prosecution, which will involve the parent/carers appearing in the Magistrates Court
Fixed Penalty Notice, which is a fine issued instead of a full parental prosecution
Education Supervision Order (ESO), which will involve the young person appearing in the family court
Legal measures will be considered carefully and discussed with the parent/carer either at a planning meeting, during the Fast Track process, or through written warning.
Parents may be prosecuted for not sending their child to school under the 1996 Education Act. A parental prosecution will be used as a last resort once a school and the Education Welfare Service have tried to work with a family to increase a child’s attendance.
A prosecution may involve the parent appearing in the Magistrates Court and may result in a Community Order, a fine of up to £2500, or a custodial sentence.
Anyone with parental responsibility for a child can be prosecuted for non-attendance at school whether the child lives with them or not.
For more information, see our Parental Prosecutions Leaflet
Fixed Penalty Notice
A Fixed Penalty Notice is issued instead of a parental prosecution and can be used in the following circumstances:
Unauthorised term time holiday
Appearing in a public place during the first 5 days of a fixed term exclusion
Failure to improve attendance as part of the Fast Track Process
Truancy, lateness and persistent absence from school
The penalty is £60. The penalty is issued per parent/carer and may be issued to anyone who has parental responsibility. The Penalty Notice is issued at the request of the school.
Failure to pay the Penalty Notice will result in parental prosecution and an increased fine.
For more information, see our Fixed Penalty Notice Leaflet
Education Supervision Order (ESO)
An ESO is a strategy which is used in partnership with families, schools and appropriate agencies to bring about a return to regular school attendance. It will be heard by a Magistrate in the Family Proceedings Court.
An ESO allocates a named supervisor and gives them power to advise, assist, befriend and give direction. In practice this means that the child will be expected to attend school regularly. It also means that the family must:
Meet their supervisor regularly, perhaps where they are living or at school
Discuss any problems which may prevent regular school attendance
Notify the supervisor of any change of address
An ESO will initially last for 12 months although it can be extended by an application to the Family Proceedings Court. When an ESO is in place, parents retain parental responsibility and must continue to do all they can to ensure their child does attend school.
A lack of parental co-operation may result in cases being referred back to the Magistrates Court for a parental prosecution. An ESO may also be pursued in conjunction with a parental prosecution. If the young person does not comply with the requirements of an ESO, a referral to Social Care Direct may be made.
For more information, see our Education Supervision Order Leaflet