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School fines for unauthorised absences to rise by £20 as government crackdown continues





Parents are to face bigger fines for taking their children out of school as the government introduces more measures to drive up attendance.

Schools will also now be required to share daily attendance registers with education officials, councils and trusts so that the data can be used to identify ‘worrying trends’ of persistent absence.

The government is cracking down on school attendance which has fallen since the pandemic. Picture: iStock
The government is cracking down on school attendance which has fallen since the pandemic. Picture: iStock

From September, parent fines for unauthorised absences are being increased as part of reforms to ‘tackle inconsistencies in their use’.

A fine, says the government, must be considered if a child misses five days of school for unauthorised absence – such as taking a family holiday.

The cost of that fine – for each parent – is also to increase from £60 to £80 if paid within 21 days and from £120 to £160 if paid in 28 days.

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The Department for Education says there has been a ‘worldwide rise’ in absence and persistent absence from school since the pandemic, which broke habits of coming to lessons combined with other barriers such as mental ill health.

Parents can face a fine for five days of absence. Image: iStock.
Parents can face a fine for five days of absence. Image: iStock.

Alongside forcing schools to share statistics to understand how their attendance figures compare nationally and locally, and increasing fines for parents, there are also plans to expand the use of the attendance hubs programme, which aims to share best practice when it comes to encouraging pupils into school and supports schools facing challenges with getting children into the classroom.

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Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Our fantastic schools and teachers unlock children’s imagination, potential and social skills which is why improving attendance is my number one priority.

“Today we are taking that next step to further boost attendance and I want to thank those who are working with us including teachers and heads.”

From August 2024 guidance on how schools and councils must take a ‘support first’ approach with struggling pupils will also be made law with among the new rules - the expectation of regular meetings between schools and councils to agree formal plans for the most at-risk absent children.

Families struggling with school attendance, promises the government, will get tailored support. Image: iStock.
Families struggling with school attendance, promises the government, will get tailored support. Image: iStock.

The importance of support for pupils with special educational needs and mental hill health are also included alongside encouraging early intervention and close working with families to address individual needs.

Read more: The school allowing teachers to ‘work from home’ - and how it works

Steve Wilkinson, president of the Association of Education Welfare Management which runs attendance support in local councils, added: “We welcomed the opportunity to work closely with the DfE to share the vast expertise of our members with improving attendance in schools and other educational provisions.

“Putting these measures on a statutory footing helps reinforce the importance of school attendance and the need to ensure families receive the support they need, when they need it, working together to ensure any barriers to attendance for children are removed.”



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