Agenda item

Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for Unauthorised Holidays taken in Term Time


Councillor Lakin, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families Services, introduced a report by the Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services which set out the amendments that were made to the Pupil Registration Regulations and the Penalty Notices Regulations. These amendments came into force on 1st September, 2013.


Amendments to the Pupil Registration Regulations removed references to ‘family holiday’ and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days.  The amendments made it clear that Head Teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there were exceptional circumstances.


Head Teachers were to determine what circumstances were to be considered ‘exceptional’ reasons for taking a holiday in term time and must also determine the number of school days a child would be permitted to be away from school if the leave was granted. 


Under the provisions of the Anti-social Behaviour Act, 2003 it was possible that in certain cases of unauthorised absence a fixed penalty notice may be issued to the parents of compulsory school age children.  These notices required an out of court fine to be paid by parents of pupils who have unauthorised absence from school.  


Amendments to Penalty Notice Regulations have reduced the timescales for paying a fixed penalty notice fine.  Parents must, from 1st September, 2013, pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days of a penalty notice being issued.


After a period of consultation, with all schools including academies and the Police, every Local Authority was required to draw up and publish a code of conduct for issuing fixed penalty notices for unauthorised absence from school.  The code should set out the criteria that would be used to trigger the use of a penalty notice. This should include arrangements to issue penalty notices for unauthorised holidays.


DfE guidance required that the local authority administered the fixed penalty notices scheme for all schools in its area, including academies and free schools and set out three options for consideration:-


·                Omitting unauthorised holidays in term time from the local code of conduct.

·                Developing a local code of conduct that would permit individual Head Teachers to issue fixed penalty notices for unauthorised holidays in term time.

·                A local code of conduct permitting Education Welfare Services to manage and issue fixed penalty notices for unauthorised absence, including for holidays in term time.


Cabinet Members expressed some concerns about restrictive working practises and holidays for some parents and were advised that consideration would be given each request for absence alongside the child’s attendance history.


Resolved:-  (1)  That Option 3 be approved as the preferred recommendation permitting the Education Welfare Service to administer  and issue fixed penalty notices, until the end of July, 2015, for unauthorised absence, including for holidays in term time, ensuring consistency, fairness and transparency.


(2)  That the Education Welfare Service undertake quarterly reviews of the fixed penalty notice scheme until August, 2014 to assess the service impact, volume of requests and the number of penalty notices issued, paid, referred to court and withdrawn and a report submitted to Cabinet for consideration.


(3)  That the Education Welfare Service reserve the right to amend the code of conduct, via consultation, transferring the responsibility to issue fixed penalty notices to schools and individual Head Teachers. 

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