Legal action to enforce school attendance

Information about the legal action that can be taken if a child fails to attend school

Our local authority and schools can use various legal powers if your child is missing school without a good reason. These are:

  • a Parenting Order;
  • an Education Supervision Order;
  • a School Attendance Order;
  • a fine (sometimes known as a 'penalty notice').

You can be given one or more of these but our local authority does not have to do this before prosecuting you.

Parenting Order

This means you have to go to parenting classes. You'll also have to do what the court says to improve your child's school attendance.

Education Supervision Order

If the local authority thinks you need support getting your child to go to school but you're not co-operating, they can apply to a court for an Education Supervision Order.

An officer will be appointed to help you get your child into education. Our local authority can do this instead of prosecuting you, or as well.

School Attendance Order

You'll get a School Attendance Order if our local authority thinks your child is not getting an education.

You have 15 days to provide evidence that you've registered your child with the school listed in the order or that you're giving them home education. If you do not, you could be prosecuted or given a fine.


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


You could get a fine of up to £2,500, a community order or a jail sentence up to 3 months. The court also gives you a Parenting Order.​

More information about penalty notices can be found in the document below: