Penalty Notice Handbook

Section 23 of the Anti- Social Behaviour Act 2003 introduced amendments to Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 to empower designated LA officers, Head teachers (and Deputy or Assistant Head teachers authorised by them), and the Police to issue Penalty Notices (PNs) in cases of unauthorised absence from school. PNs supplement the existing sanctions currently available under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 to enforce attendance at school where appropriate.

PNs are an effective tool as an alternative to prosecution under section 444. The offence that a PN is seeking to penalise parents for is a "failure of their child to attend regularly at the school where the child is a registered pupil" (section 444 Education Act 1996). Parents may discharge their potential liability for conviction for an offence under section 444 by paying a penalty. Attendance (statutory functions), Child Employment/Entertainment & Elective Home Education/Children Missing Education (ACE) will be responsible for the issuing of all PNs on behalf of the Local Authorities.

There is no statutory right of appeal against the issue of a PN.

Relevant Legislation:

Education Act (1996) – Section 444 as amended by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003).


  • Education (Penalty Notice) (England) Regulations (2007)
  • The Education (Penalty Notices) (England) (Amendments) Regulations 2012
  • Education (Penalty Notices) (England) (Amendments) Regulations 2013


DCSF Guidance on Education Related Parenting Contracts, Parenting Orders and Penalty Notices (September 2007).


Code of Conduct for Penalty Notices revised September 2013.

Last updated: 23 February 2023