Penalty notices

Information and advice for parents about penalty notices and pay a penalty notice

Your child must start full-time education once they reach compulsory school age. This is on 31 December, 31 March or 31 August following their fifth birthday, whichever comes first. If your child’s fifth birthday is on one of those dates then they reach compulsory school age on that date.

Only children of compulsory school age fall within the scope of the penalty notice Code of Conduct.

You could be issued with a penalty notice if your child misses school without permission.

Legal action may be taken if a family goes on holiday during term time without the School's permission. Instead of a penalty notice, the case would go directly to the Magistrates for their consideration in court. If found guilty by the Magistrates, parents could face a fine of up to £2,500 and/or 3 months imprisonment.

Reasons for penalty notices include:

  • truancy
  • unauthorised absence
  • your child was identified during a school attendance and exclusion sweep
  • holidays in term time without permission
  • excluded pupils found in a public place during the first 5 days of exclusion

How much a penalty notice costs

Penalty fines cost:

  • £60 per child, per parent, if you pay within 21 days
  • £120 per child, per parent if you pay within 28 days

You could be prosecuted if you don’t pay the fine after 28 days.

Penalty notices are sent by post.

Fines are payable to Essex County Council. All penalty notice fine payments are retained by Essex County Council and are used for the purposes of administering the local penalty notice scheme.

How to pay

You can pay your fine online.

Withdrawal of a penalty notice

A penalty notice can only be withdrawn if it:

Appeal a penalty notice

There is no right of appeal against a penalty notice. Contact your child's school if you think a penalty notice should not have been issued.


Contact the Attendance Compliance Team
If you have been issued a penalty notice or have received a Notice of Intention to Prosecute letter.