There are several ways that the school, other key workers and the Attendance Improvement Service (AIS) can support you to address your child’s attendance issues and these can be split into voluntary and legal interventions. Torbay AIS only considers and undertakes legal intervention when all other approaches have been exhausted and the attendance has still failed to improve.
Parenting contracts are voluntary and consist of a written agreement between a parent and the school and sometimes other keyworkers. These should contain:
- A statement agreed by all parties to address any issues which in turn will support the attendance process for the child and thereby assist the parent in complying with the contract.
- A timeframe with which to improve the attendance.
Parenting contracts are a useful tool in identifying and focusing on the issues behind the non-attendance and in developing a productive relationship with parents to address the issues.
Entry into a parenting contract is voluntary. You cannot be compelled to enter into a parenting contract but it should be considered by all parties and refusal to enter into a parenting contract agreement will be noted in the legal arena should the case progress further.
Legal actions that can be considered:
- Penalty Notices
- Education Supervision Order (ESO)
- School Attendance Order (SAO)
- Parenting Order
- Summons to Court
The Attendance Improvement Officer may consider applying for an ESO when you fail to ensure your child's regular school attendance or failure to comply with a school attendance order. Before applying to the Court, we must ensure we have attempted to improve your child’s attendance.
An ESO will last for a period of 12 months but can be extended to a maximum of three years.
What will happen?
We will prepare a report on the situation. You, your family and representatives will be required to attend the family proceedings court when magistrates will decide whether to grant the order. We will appoint a supervising officer. This will normally be the Attendance Improvement Officer known to you and your family.
When are education supervision orders granted?
The court must be satisfied that:
- a child of compulsory school age is not being properly educated;
- making an order would be better than not making an order.
What happens if the education supervision order fails?
- The matter can be referred back to the Family Proceedings Court.
- Parents can be prosecuted in the Magistrates' Court if they have failed to follow directions.
- We may investigate the child's circumstances and consider whether we need to take any action.
A SAO is issued if your child is not on roll at any school and we \re worried that you have not made arrangements to provide an alternative, suitable, full-time education. Before serving an SAO we will make every effort to discuss the situation with you. If it is not possible to persuade you to make suitable arrangements for your child’s education, then you will be served with a notice stating that you are failing in your duty to provide your child with an education.
What will I have to do?
You will have 15 days to prove to the Local Authority that you are providing a suitable education for your child, either at school or otherwise.
What happens if I do not do this?
You will then be instructed to enroll your child at a school, which will be named on the order. If you fail to do this you may be prosecuted and taken to court.
We may prosecute you (we don’t have to issue a penalty notice first) and this could result in a more severe penalty.
You could get a fine of up to £2,500, a community order or, in extreme cases, a jail sentence of up to three months. If the court thinks it will help to stop your child missing school, it may also impose a Parenting Order.
If a Parenting Order is made you may be required to attend parenting education or support classes. You will also have to do whatever the court says is necessary to improve your child’s behaviour and attendance at school.
A Parenting Order can be made by the Court when a young person has:
- been convicted of an offence.
- been made the subject of a Child Safety or Anti-Social Behaviour Order
- failed to attend school regularly and the parent has therefore committed an offence under the Education Act 1996
The aim of the Parenting Order is to give parents guidance and advice to help them manage the difficulties of being a parent.
What will I have to do?
- Attend parenting education or support classes.
- Exercise control over the young person and ensure that they attend school and improve their behaviour
- Comply with the court imposed conditions
- Comply with requests from your Supervising Officer
What happens if I do not co-operate?
You will be asked for an explanation by the supervising officer who will review the case and decide whether to take action for breach of the order. If you do get taken back to Court, you could be fined up to £1,000.
If you have been issued a Penalty Notice which has gone unpaid, or you paid a Penalty Notice and then committed a further offence contrary to s444(1) Education Act 1996 within the next two years, you are likely to be summonsed to Court. If convicted, you could receive a fine of up to £1000.
If you are convicted of an offence under s444(1) Education Act 1996, and you commit a further offence within the next 5 years, you will be summonsed for the more serious offence contrary to s444(1A) Education Act 1996. If convicted, you could receive a fine of up to £2500 or up to 3 months imprisonment.
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