Fixed penalty notices - code of conduct

Amendment to Lincolnshire’s fixed penalty notice

Applying for a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for non-school attendance 

Holidays and persistent absence

The Department for Education (DfE) are releasing a national code of conduct for the issuing of fixed penalty notices (FPNs). This will be something everyone is required to adopt. It will provide consistency in the approach to FPNs. This should be with us in several months.

 In the interim, we will provide an update on our requirements for the issuing of FPNs. The update will show revised changes for FPNs for term-time holidays.


All schools should ensure their attendance policy:

  • is up-to-date
  • displayed on their website
  • includes all relevant guidance, legislation and any FPN templates

Schools and academies are required to be proactive in sharing these documents with parents. This includes the relevant legislation relating to the issuing of FPNs for unauthorised absences.

  • when promoting good attendance, schools should refer to their attendance policy when communicating with parents or carers. This includes via their website, parent hub or school app communications. This will:
    • ensure that parents are kept up-to-date with any changes to legislation
    • provide a new method of prior warning to parents, without the need to re-issue formal legal warnings
  •  we now accept emails when applying for FPNs relating to holidays taken during term-time. We also accept other forms of communication, such as parent hub or school app messages sent as a direct or generic message to all parents
  • formal warning letters will still be required when applying for an FPN for persistent absence

Please see below for each relevant scenario.

FPN: term-time holiday - parental holiday request received

Where there is a request for a term-time holiday (leave of absence) that the school refuses because it does not meet the criteria for ‘exceptional circumstances’, the school must issue a letter or email in response to parent. The letter or email should:

  • give their reasons for refusal to authorise
  • include the LCC template warning
  • confirm to the parent that if the child is not in school on the days requested the absence will be recorded as unauthorised absence. (The school will presume they have gone away on their intended holiday).

Schools should then advise the parent that they will request us to issue an FPN for a holiday taken during term-time.

FPN: term-time holiday – no parental holiday request received

For cases where:

  • evidence suggests the absence was a term-time holiday
  • no application or request for leave is received from parents in advance of a holiday
  • there may be other factors which imply to the school that the family were away on a holiday

The school can apply for an FPN retrospectively. Schools can now request an FPN from us, without formally issuing parents with a warning letter. This relates only to holidays during term-time.

It is, however, best practice to write to families, referencing:

  • their attendance policy
  • any recent communications regarding their stance on holidays taken during term-time

Over the last two to three years, the use of FPNs for term-time holidays has grown. It is now established nationally as a method to discourage absence during term-time.

Schools who have regularly communicated with their parents regarding the use of FPNs, can now request these, specifically in the case of holidays, without issuing a formal written warning prior to the holiday.

Schools will be able to demonstrate to us how they have communicated to parents. This could be via their attendance policy, and through regular informative updates, such as:

  • emails
  • school publications
  • parenthub or apps. We can also accept photos of their website publications

FPN: persistent absence and, or unauthorised absence

When requesting an FPN from us for persistent absence, schools will be required to share copies of all recent and relevant communications with parents. This demonstrates they have provided guidance to all parents on the use of FPNs for unauthorised absences.

Schools wanting to request that we issue an FPN for persistent absence should first discuss this with our attendance team. 

Schools have a designated attendance and safeguarding education welfare officer. They should consult with them prior to requesting an FPN for persistent absence. FPNs for persistent absence are only successful if issued within the first term of poor attendance. This should be taken into account when considering issuing an FPN in these circumstances.

 The attendance team may agree to an FPN as a next action. In this circumstance, schools will issue parents with an FPN formal warning letter. The letter must be sent to each individual parent. It must inform them that if the child’s school attendance does not improve, the school will request an FPN. If the FPN fine remains unpaid, we could choose to prosecute the parents, for failure to ensure regular school attendance.

We will not discuss parental complaints, appeals or queries regarding FPNs issued. We will advise parents to liaise with their schools regarding fines issued. We will only withdraw or re-issue a fine if directed so by the requesting school.