Fines for unauthorised absence from school

Unauthorised absences are any absence not agreed by your child's school. If your child has unauthorised absences in an academic year, you may be liable for a penalty notice.

To avoid this, it's important to ensure your child's school authorises any absence.

Issuing a penalty notice

Our code of conduct allows us to issue a penalty notice for:

  • absence from school without reasonable cause
  • persistent lateness.

We have powers to issue penalty notices when we consider a parent or carer capable of ensuring the child attends school, but where there is no improvement in their child's school attendance.

In such cases, we'll give a written warning notice which allows you 15 school days to make an improvement in your child's attendance. There must be no unauthorised absence during this time.

If unauthorised absence continues, we'll send a penalty notice to your home.

Fines and prosecution

Parents must pay:

  • £60, if paid within 21 days, or
  • £120, if paid within 28 days.

If you pay the fine, you cannot be prosecuted for the period covered by the penalty notice. You do still remain liable to prosecution if your child's attendance does not improve.

If you don't pay the fine, you'll be prosecuted for the original offence of failing to secure attendance. If proven, the court can impose a fine of up to £2,500 and/or three months' imprisonment.

Help and advice

If you have concerns about your child's attendance, you should contact:

  • your child's school first
  • The Attendance Advisory Service if your child is causing you special concern.

Most schools in the Royal Borough of Greenwich have an allocated Attendance Advisory Officer. It is their role to work in partnership with parents or carers and schools to secure school attendance and give support.

Attendance advisory officers can offer advice on:

  • resolving attendance problems
  • social and family problems
  • referrals to other services
  • other useful contacts.

Referrals to the Attendance Advisory Service

If you're referred to the Attendance Advisory Service, an officer will write to arrange an appointment to meet you.

The aim of the meeting is to:

  • examine the reason for your child's absence
  • consider your views on the situation
  • create a plan to help you get your child back to attending school regularly 

Further appointments may be necessary to address the difficulties and secure attendance. They can be either at your home or school.

For your child's sake, you should cooperate with the Attendance Advisory Officer to make sure your child overcomes their attendance problems and gets an appropriate education.

If you do not cooperate, the Attendance Advisory Service, on behalf of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, may consider the use of legal proceedings.