Parents hit with rising school fines over non-attendance

2 mins read

Wednesday 8 June 2022

Tags: education, special educational needs, schools, school attendance

An increasing number of parents are being fined for their child’s non-attendance at school – amounting to £3.7 million in fines so far in this school year, according to a report by the BBC.

Contact knows from calls to our helpline that there are a number of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who struggle with attendance or are on part-time timetables. We saw an 8% increase in calls to our SEN helpline on attendance issues in the six months up to March.

Children with disabilities and health conditions have historically had more absences from school for a number of reasons: health issues, lack of support in school, waiting for a suitable school place, waiting for a first or updated Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), as well as being subject to higher rates of exclusion and illegal exclusion. But the pandemic added to this.

Una Summerson, Head of Policy at Contact, said: “The disruption of the pandemic is continuing to impact the school attendance of children with disabilities and health conditions.

“Children with special educational needs may have struggled more than others to get back into a normal pattern of school or may have found it physically challenging to manage a full day after so long off. In some cases children need access to therapies or mental health support, as well as quick processing of assessments of need to help them get back into school. Parents cannot be fined if a child is off for a genuine medical absence. Schools must authorise an absence where a child is ill or has a medical appointment.”

Help and advice on attendance issues

Our website has advice on absence from school, going back to school after absence, information about fines for non-attendance and more.

You can also find information about getting help with your child’s medical needs and the duties schools have to support pupils with health conditions.