Penalty Notices for non-attendance at school

Regular and punctual attendance at school is the law. Missing school often affects a pupil’s attainment and may make them vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and youth crime.

If a child does not attend the school where they are registered and they do not have permission from the school for the absence, the parent or carer may be issued with a School Penalty Notice.

Schools, the Police and neighbouring Councils send requests to issue School Penalty Notices to Bedford Borough Council’s Education Welfare Service. Working closely with these agencies, the Education Welfare Service is responsible for the decision to issue a School Penalty Notices.

Read more about what the Department for Education says about school attendance and Penalty Notices.  

When is a School Penalty Notice issued?

A School Penalty Notice is only issued for unauthorised absences from school. 

Where there is more than one pupil in a family with poor school attendance, multiple School Penalty Notices may be issued to the same parents/carers during the year. There is no restriction on the number of times a parent/carer may be given a warning of the possible issue of a School Penalty Notice.

A School Penalty Notice may be issued:

  • when the pupil has taken holiday during term-time and the absence has not been authorised by the school
  • following a Truancy Patrol when the school has recorded the absence of the pupil as unauthorised
  • if a pupil is persistently late for school
  • if a pupil’s school attendance has been poor, and the parents/carers fail to attend or co-operate at pre-referral meetings

The Education Welfare Service will issue a School Penalty Notice if at least 5 school days (10 sessions) have been missed due to unauthorised absence during the last 12 school weeks. The parent/carer will normally receive a formal warning of the possibility of a School Penalty Notice being issued. They will have a maximum of 15 school days to demonstrate improvement in their child’s school attendance.

Once a School Penalty Notice has been issued, there is no statutory right of appeal, although there are circumstances in which the Council may withdraw it.

How much is a School Penalty Notice? 

A School Penalty Notice is £60 if paid within 21 days, rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days. 

Late or part payments will not be accepted. We do not send reminders. If you do not pay the School Penalty Notice you are likely to be prosecuted for the offence and could be fined up to £2,500.

How to pay a School Penalty Notice 

The quickest and easiest way to pay is online. You will need:

  • your School Penalty Notice reference number (this is on the front of your School Penalty Notice)
  • your credit or debit card

We do not accept cash, cheques, or postal orders.

Pay a School FPN