School Absence Penalty Notice (fine)

Reducing absence from school is a key priority, because missing school:

  • damages a pupil’s attainment levels,
  • disrupts school routines and the learning of others 
  • can leave a pupil vulnerable to anti-social behaviour and youth crime
  • seriously affects children’s life opportunities

Parents/carers may get a Penalty Notice (fine) sent to their home address if:

Reasons for a Penalty Notice (fine)

  • Unauthorised leave/holidays during term time for 6 or more half days
  • If parents/carers do not attend In-School Attendance Panels where they have been invited to discuss their child’s unauthorised absences and/or lateness
  • Attendance of 90% or less over a school term with 20 or more unauthorised half-days. Where parents/carers have failed to work with the school to address and improve the situation.
  • late arrival at school (10 minutes after the attendance register has closed) with 20 avoidable late marks or more over the period of a school term. After normal school procedures and sanctions have been followed. The journey, weather conditions and transport disruptions will be taken into consideration.
  • A mix of unauthorised absence and avoidable lateness (10 minutes after the attendance register has closed) of  20 sessions or more over the period of a school term.
  • If parents/carers do not make sure their child is not in a public place during the first 5 days of exclusion from school without a good reason.


The cost of the Penalty Notice is £60 per child per parent/carer but increases to £120 if payment is not made within 21 days.

Pay School Absence Penalty Notice (fine)



What happens if I do not pay?

After receiving the Penalty Notice you have 28 days to pay it in full. If it has not been paid in full during this time, we will start proceedings with the Magistrates Court.

Dispute a fine

There is no statutory right of appeal once a Penalty Notice has been issued.

The child's school decides who is fined. Tower Hamlets council enforce the payment collection.

If a parent/carer wants to dispute a fine,  please check your child’s school website for more information.


You will not be prosecuted if you pay the full Penalty Notice, for the period of time covered. However, any future absence may lead to prosecution. If your child still misses school, it is  very important that you work closely with your child’s school and the school's Attendance & Welfare Advisor.

Get help with your child's attendance

The council and your child’s school will give you advice and support if you need help to improve your child’s attendance. It is very important that you speak with the school or with the Attendance and Welfare Service as soon as possible.


See more information on attendance and welfare support

Tower Hamlets Behaviour and Attendance Support Service

Professional Development Centre

229 Bethnal Green Road


E2 6AB

Tel: 0207 364 3450