Fixed penalty notices - code of conduct

The law

School attendance

Under Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 the parent of every child of compulsory school age has a duty to ensure that the child receives efficient full-time education suitable to the child's age, ability and any special educational needs they may have. This duty can be met by:

  • the child regularly attending a school or alternative educational provision made by the LA or the school, or
  • by the parent providing other suitable educational provision

The parent may be guilty of an offence under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 if they fail to ensure:

  • their child’s regular attendance at a school at which they are a registered pupil, or 
  • other educational provision is made for their child

Where a child has not attended regularly at school, the LA have the options of:

  • issuing a fixed penalty notice in respect of the parents of the child
  • bringing proceedings before the family courts for an Education Supervision Order or 
  • prosecuting the parents under Section 444 before the Magistrates, Court

Non-school attendance includes any day when a child should be in attendance at school, and they are absent without the authorisation of the school. This includes:

  • unauthorised holidays during term time 
  • persistent late arrival at school beyond the registration period

Fixed penalty notices can be issued for persistent lateness where the child arrives after the closure of registration. This is coded U in the register.

Excluded Pupils

Section 103 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 makes it a duty for parents in relation to pupils subject to a fixed period or permanent exclusion, to ensure that their child is not present in a public place during school hours, without reasonable justification, during the first five days of any such exclusion. If a child is present in a public place during the first five days of an exclusion during school hours the parent may be guilty of an offence for which they can be prosecuted by the LA before a magistrates' court.

Alternatively, the school can deal with the matter by issuing a fixed penalty notice.


To proceed with a fixed penalty notice and, or prosecution, under section 103 of the Education and Inspection Act 2006 the head teacher of the school must have issued a formal warning letter to the parent(s) under Section 104 of the Act. This letter should inform the parent of their liability and set out the dates on which this liability arises. (This should be included in the standard exclusions letter). This can be included in the letter sent to the parent providing other information about the exclusion. It can be served by first class post, but where the opportunity arises to hand it to the parent(s) this is the preferred method.

Where an excluded pupil is of compulsory school age, the head teacher must also notify parents without delay, and by the end of the afternoon session. For the purpose of the warning letter above, the letter should include:

"that for the first five school days of an exclusion (or until the start date of any alternative provision where this is earlier) parents are legally required to ensure that their child is not present in a public place during school hours without reasonable justification, and that parents may be given a fixed penalty notice or prosecuted if they fail to do so. This will therefore apply to you from (Insert first date of exclusion)  to the end of the school day on (insert fifth date of exclusion)."

Fixed penalty notices

The Education (Penalty Notices) (England) Regulations 2007 as amended set out the framework for the operation of the penalty notice scheme.


For the purposes of education law and this code of conduct a "parent" means all natural parents, whether they are married or not. It includes any person having parental responsibility for a child (a person under 18 years of age) who, although not the child's natural parent, has care of that child. Having care of a child means an adult with whom the child lives and who looks after the child on a day-to-day basis. Any reference to a "parent" in this code of conduct is a reference to anyone having care of a child as set out above.