If a registered pupil of compulsory school age fails to regularly attend school, the parent could be guilty of an offence under Section 444 Education Act 1996. The definition of ‘regular attendance’ means a child must attend school on every day that the school requires him or her to do so, failure to do so may lead to the commission of an offence. There are two offences:
Section 444(1) Education Act 1996 – if the child is absent without authorisation then the parent is guilty of an offence. This is a strict liability offence, the evidence is a lack of regular attendance. Sanctions can include a fine up to £1,000.
Section 444(1A) Education Act 1996 – this is an aggravated offence. If the child is absent without authorisation and the parent knew about the child’s absence and failed to act, then the parent is guilty of an offence. Sanctions can include a fine up to £2,500 and a prison sentence up to 3 months, and other possible directions e.g. Community Service and / or a Parenting Order.
Attendance Plus and Prosecution
Where necessary and appropriate, Attendance Plus, on behalf of the school, undertakes attendance support to consider the appropriatness of prosecution to secure regular attendance. We do this by:
- Support for the family in the context of achieving regular attendance / improved punctuality.
- If the attendance matter remains, assessing and deciding the appropriateness of taking legal action.
- Liaison with the Local Authority.
- Liaising with other agencies as appropriate.
- Making the application for legal action, completing and submitting the Witness Statement and Certificate of Attendance.
- Monitoring and encouraging a positive outcome with the family i.e. achieving regular attendance.