Sharp rise in penalties for school absences

Latest news from our schools EMN-200701-132010001
Latest news from our schools EMN-200701-132010001

Lincolnshire has seen one of the sharpest increases in the number of penalties issued to parents for failing to make sure their children attend school.

A Freedom of Information data request by The Knowledge Academy to all county councils, unitary authorities and London boroughs revealed the number of penalty notices for unauthorised absences in 2018-19 across the country has risen by 25 per cent on the previous year.

Lincolnshire saw the sixth biggest increase in penalty notices issued. There were 2,239 issued in 2017-18 in the county which rose to 3,083 in 2018-19.

As a result, revenue collected in fines was £91,925 in 2017-28 for Lincolnshire. This rose to £134,880 in 2018-19, a massive 46.7 per cent increase.

The sharpest increase in issued penalty notices was Gloucestershire with 1,632 PNs in the 2018/2019 year compared to 575 the year previous – an alarming 183.8 per cent rise. (Visit:

Matthew Clayton, interim Head of Education Support at Lincolnshire County Council, explains that it may well be because schools are more used to issuing the fines now which is causing the sharp rise.

He said: “Ensuring all children in the county receive a good education is a priority for schools and the local authority.

“If a child is not in school, they will miss out on learning and risk falling behind. So it is vitally important that unauthorised absence is addressed.

“Schools only use these fines as a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted.

“The process for issuing fixed penalty notices is now more established than it was one or two years ago. It is the fact that schools are now more familiar with the process and apply it more consistently that has largely contributed to the increase in the number of fines being issued.”

By law, children must get an education either until they turn 16 and you can be prosecuted if you do not stick to that. Unless due to illness, you will get warnings and offers of help from the local council first. You must get permission from the headteacher if you want to take your child out of school for holidays during term time or you can be fined.