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Legal action to enforce penalties

3 February 2017

Missing Education and Child Employment Services

We have a duty to ensure you carry out your legal responsibility of making sure your child attends school. Missing Education and Child Employment Services investigate issues around lack of attendance and may visit a pupil’s home if they are absent from school without authorisation.
If unauthorised absences continue, penalty notices may be issued to both parents or legal action could be taken.

Penalty notices

Penalty notices can be issued by the Missing Education and Child Employment Services in accordance with the code of conduct for the following circumstances:
  • Truancy/unauthorised absence
  • Pupil identified during a school attendance and exclusion sweep
  • Holidays in term time without permission
  • Excluded pupils found in a public place during the first five days of exclusion without a justifiable reason
  • A £60 penalty notice may be issued to each parent or carer for each child, to be paid within 21 days
  • If this is not paid within the 21-day period, it will increase to £120
  • If this is not paid within 28 days, parents or carers will be prosecuted in the magistrates’ court for failing to ensure their children attend school regularly


We will never contact you by telephone asking for payment without first sending you a penalty notice via Royal Mail. If you receive a telephone call requesting a fee payment without first being notified in the post, do not pay it without contacting Missing Education and Child Employment Services first.
Alternatively, report the incident to the Counter Fraud Team on 01245 431146.


If a parent is prosecuted for failing to ensure their child attends school regularly, the maximum penalties are  a fine of £2,500 and / or three months imprisonment.

Parenting orders

Parenting orders may be issued by magistrates following the conviction of parents or carers for failing to send their child to school regularly. As part of the parenting order, each parent will be required to:


  • fulfil certain tasks such as taking their child to school each day
  • attend parenting guidance sessions


Failure to do this will breach the court order and the matter will return to court and further fines could be imposed.

Education supervision orders


The local authority may apply for an education supervision order (ESO) instead of, or as well as prosecuting parents. This would be heard in the Family Proceedings Court and, if granted, a supervising officer will be appointed to support parents in exercising their parental authority.
An ESO places children under the supervision of the local authority for a prolonged period (usually 12 months but can be extended for up to three years) and empowers the supervising officer to direct the child and parent in matters relating to school attendance. ESOs also remove certain rights such as where the child is educated. Parents may be prosecuted if you fail to cooperate and follow directions. 

School attendance orders

School Attendance Orders are issued (SAO) if a child is not enrolled at a school and the local authority does not believe parents have made arrangements to provide an alternative, suitable, full-time education.
Parents are given 15 days to provide evidence that the child is registered at a school or that they are receiving a suitable education otherwise than at school.
If this is not received, a SAO may be issued which will require parents to send their child to a specific school. If this does not happen the matter will proceed to magistrates court for breach of order.