Can I be fined for refusing to send my child back to school?

Teacher in primary school class.

Schools have said attendance is mandatory as the new academic year starts - Credit: PA

As pupils across the city get ready to head back to the classroom, parents have been warned they will face fines for absences. 

The Department for Education (DfE) has said it will tackle parents and children reluctant to return to the playground by recruiting teams of “attendance advisers”.

Although it said it was aware parents may be anxious about sending their children back, the department said it was mandatory for all children to attend. 

City schools have written to parents to outline that attendance for all pupils is necessary from the start of the new term.

One such letter to parents of pupils at Hellesdon High School states: “Attendance and punctuality at school plays a pivotal role in the academic success of students.”

It adds: “It is worth noting that even if your child has 90pc attendance at the end of the year, they still will have missed 19 days of schooling, almost four weeks that will have a detrimental impact on their progress.” 

Legal measures to enforce school attendance can include a parenting order – where parents have to attend parenting classes, education supervision order, school attendance order, £60 fines or eventually prosecution.

New attendance advisors are part of a wider back-to-school campaign from the Department for Education (DfE) to reassure parents and pupils and avoid disruption to schools by driving up Covid testing and vaccination among young people.

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How much can I be fined?

In normal circumstances, parents can be fined £60 for refusing to send their child to school under what’s known as an unauthorised absence.

Local councils can give each parent a fine of £60, which rises to £120 each if they do not pay within 21 days. If they do not pay the fine after 28 days you may be prosecuted for a child’s absence from school.

If the case goes to court they could get a fine of up to £2,500, a community order or a jail sentence of up to three months. The court can also impose a parenting order.